Thursday, October 22, 2009

Strategies for social and political change

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the strategies that citizens and civil society can use to drive large scale social and political change.

The photos were taken in Birmingham Alabama in the spring of 1963 during the campaign led by Martin Luther King to confront and change the city's discriminatory laws. The Birmingham campaign culminated in massive confrontations between black youth, including high school and primary school students, and police and City authorities. The Birmingham campaign proved to be Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement's greatest moment, reflecting his belief that non-violent direct action would "... create a situation so crises packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation". It did just that, as the events of the campaign forced the municipal government to change many of the City's discriminatory laws.

I am currently re reading Taylor Branch's book Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 which begins in the aftermath of the Birmingham campaign. In three books written over 24 years- Parting the Waters, Pillar of Fire and At Canaan's Edge-Branch has written a three volume history of the civil rights movement that stirred from Southern black churches to challenge America during the 1950's and 1960's.

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