What is a peaceful protest? When rebelling against structured and longstanding institutions where a group of people have been disenfranchised, how does that group force change?
The United States of America has some extremely biased institutions woven into every delicate fabric of its foundation. With that, should disenfranchised groups even attempt to peacefully request that which this country was not created to deliver?
Social change refers to an alteration in the social order of a society. Social change may include changes in nature, social institutions, social behaviors, or social relations. Often times, differences within social order lead to differences in access to opportunity, wealth, property, nourishment, housing, and a host of other things.
I do not have the answers to the questions I posed at the beginning of this article, but I do know that other groups throughout history have struggled similarly to black people in the United States. In order for those groups to extract equality from institutions that were not created for them was not easy, and many times, not done peacefully.
Here’s a few examples of when how “Turning Up” helped a few other groups around the world:
1.)The Haitian Revolution
On August 22, 1791, the slaves of Saint Domingue rose in revolt began civil war on the Caribbean island. Within the next ten days, slaves had taken control of the entire Northern Province in an unprecedented slave revolt. Whites kept control of only a few isolated, fortified camps. The slaves sought revenge on their masters through “pillage, rape, torture, mutilation, and death”. Because the plantation owners had long feared a revolt like this, they were well armed and prepared to defend themselves. Nonetheless, within weeks, the number of slaves who joined the revolt reached approximately 100,000.
By 1794, slavery was formally abolished and political rights to all black men in the colonies. It is estimated that the slave rebellion resulted in the deaths of 100,000 blacks and 24,000 whites.
The American Revolution was a political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century, in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America. They rejected the authority of the Parliament of Great Britain to govern them from overseas without representation.
After a bloody war with the British Empire the USA became independent in July, 1776, when the Congress issued the Declaration of Independence, rejecting the monarchy on behalf of the new nation. The war ended with effective American victory in October, 1781, followed by formal British abandonment of any claims to the United States with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
3. Nat Turner Rebellion
The most celebrated slave rebellion in American history, organized by Nat Turner, took place in Southampton County, Virginia, an area of small farms rather than large plantations. Born in 1800, Turner was a slave preacher and something of a mystic. In the 1820s, he began to see visions in the sky: black and white angels fighting, the heavens running red with blood. He became convinced that he had been chosen by God to lead his people to freedom.
In August 1831 Turner and five followers met and launched their rebellion. For twelve hours, they moved from farm to farm, killing every white person they encountered (nearly all women and children, for most of the area’s adult males had gone off to a nearby religious revival). By the time the militia suppressed the uprising, nearly eighty slaves had joined the rebellion, and sixty whites lay dead. A wave of terror swept over the area. Scores of innocent blacks were murdered by bands of vigilantes.
Turner himself escaped, remained at large for several weeks, and was finally captured and executed. In the aftermath of the rebellion, Virginia’s legislature debated proposals for the gradual abolition of slavery as a threat to public order. But in the end, it chose to tighten the slave codes, further limiting blacks’ freedom of movement and making it illegal for black preachers to conduct services without a white being present. Regardless of the social ramifications on slaves, many believe this was a huge spark of change hat led to eventual slave intolerance in the States.
4.) Stonewall Riots
The Stonewall riots are considered to be the catalyst for LGBT civil rights in the United States.
On June 28, 1969, a group of customers at a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village called the Stonewall Inn stood up to the police during a raid. The 200 patrons refused to cooperate, and as word spread throughout New York, they were soon joined by others in confronting the police, who were quickly outnumbered. Protesters threw bottles at police officers who could do nothing but barricade themselves inside the Stonewall for their own safety.
The streets were cleared by 4 am that morning, but over the next few nights, protesters numbered in the thousands and the LGBT movement was born. By 1970, the first gay pride parades in U.S. history took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and near the Stonewall Inn in New York.
August 9, 2014, an unarmed 18-year-old black male, Michael Brown, was shot six times by Darren Wilson, a white police officer. Wilson drove up to Brown and a friend and ordered the pair from the street onto a sidewalk. Words were exchanged, and Wilson shot at Brown from inside the patrol car. When the two men began to flee, Wilson exited the car and continued to shoot, fatally wounding Brown. As the story continued to develop, both peaceful protests and civil disorder broke out the day following the shooting and lasted for several days.
The Ferguson riots shed light on America’s broad racial divide, which—despite the strides made by the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s—still exists.
The uprising also brought attention to the aggressive tactics and over-militarization of civilian police in America. As a result of the events in Ferguson, President Obama has ordered a review of the military equipment supplied to police.
I’m not suggesting ANYTHING in this post. I am however, petitioning people to open their eyes to the truth behind how social groups have had to FORCE change throughout history. As we continue waking to more and more people being killed at the hands of police… What should we really be doing?
Hit me with your thoughts in the comments section below.
Listverse, History Channel, and Oddee.com