P. Later Movements for Change

In this Chapter:

Recent progressive movements set the stage for current efforts.

Study Questions

  1. What lessons have current movements for positive social change learned from previous movements?
  2. Are current movements for change direct descendants of previous movements or were they mostly created by a new generation of activists and develop independently?
  3. How important has leadership been in ensuring that movements for positive social change were created and stayed on track?
  4. Did social change movements in the past have stronger leadership than current movements?

Overview Article P

10 pages total

“A Conspiracy of Hope,” by Zahara Heckscher, Yes! Magazine, Spring 2004, 10 p.

The global movement against unfair trade didn’t begin in Seattle in 1999. For over 200 years people have reached across borders to end the slave trade, shame a brutal colonial regime, and bring respite to laborers in the industrial revolution.

Reading Set P1: Economic Justice Movements

63 pages total

“All In a Day’s Work: A New Generation of Labor Activists Emerges,” by Rachel Parsons, Critical Moment, Issue 17, July 2006, 11 p.

There is a growing group of young activists who are choosing to make the U.S. labor movement their life’s work.

“Labor History: New Tactics for Labor — Part II,” by Jeremy Brecher, Z Magazine, March 1998, 16 p.

The long-term decline of organized labor has been due in substantial part to internal characteristics of the labor movement itself. But new tactics have rejuvenated the movement.

“The Tenants Movement and Housers: How the tenants movement of the 1970s and 1980s evolved into the housing and community development movement of today,” by Woody Widrow, Shelterforce, Issue Number 144, November/December 2005, 12 p.

Twelve people who were leaders in their local tenant organizations in the 1970s, and are still involved in housing today, provide their perspective on their tenant work and reflect on what opportunities and challenges lie ahead in support of affordable housing.

“Building Democracy: Faith-based Community Organizing Today,” by Mark R. Warren, Shelterforce, Issue 115, January/February 2001, 11 p.

Faith-based community organizing is now a truly national phenomenon, with deep roots and a broad reach into American congregations and communities. Thorough overview of U.S. faith-based community organizing.

“An Abiding Faith in Liberation Theology: Since Vatican's Condemnation, Movement Veterans in Brazil Have Adapted to Times,” by Monte Reel, Washington Post Foreign Service, May 2, 2005, 5 p.

In the 1980s, liberation theology was blasted as a “fundamental threat” to the church by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who has now become Pope Benedict XVI. But liberation theology is far from dead. Breezy journalistic look at history and current manifestations of Liberation Theology.

“The Sweatshop Stops Here,” by Peter Dreier and Richard Appelbaum, WireTap, June 12, 2006, 5 p.

In the past decade, over 200 universities have adopted antisweatshop codes of conduct in response to student protest.

“The Anti-globalization Movement Changes Its Tune,” by Walter Truett Anderson, Pacific News Service, February 15, 2002, 3 p.

Anti-globalists are beginning to develop an alternative global vision.

Reading Set P2: National/Political Liberation Movements

41 pages total

“Remembering and Re-Examining the Third World: A Review of Vijay Prashad’s The Darker Nations,” by Ron Jacobs, Dissident Voice, March 26, 2007, 5 p.

Post-WWII national liberation struggles in the global south birthed the Third World movement.

“Poland: Solidarity — The Trade Union That Changed the World,” by Jeffrey Donovan, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, August 24, 2005, 5 p.

Brief description of the role the Solidarity union played in ending communist rule in Poland.

“Otpor: the youths who booted Milosevic,” by Christophe Chiclet, The UNESCO Courier, March 2001, 7 p. Already included in collection B5.

It took a generation of 20 year-olds without a manifesto or leader to shake Serbia out of its lethargy. Armed only with slogans and spray paint, they overthrew the dictatorship of Slobodan Miolsevic in Serbia.

“Post-Sandinista Nicaragua: The Legacy of the Nicaraguan Revolution,” by Carole Harper, Dissident Voice, August 22, 2003, 12 p.

The perspective of a solidarity activist on the lasting results of the Sandinista revolution.

“The New Southern Democrats,” by Traci Hukill, AlterNet, November 24, 2004, 8 p.

Fed up with the neoliberal policies advocated by Washington and the IMF, Latin America is turning to the left. The question now is, can it last?

“Resources,” A Force More Powerful, 4 p.

Brief accounts of seven examples of nonviolent popular resistance and revolution around the world, 1904–1989.

Reading Set P3: Peace and Environmental Movements

55 pages total

“History of the Environmental Movement,” by Jeremiah Hall, Montanans For Multiple Use, January 4, 2007, 17 p.

A short history of the environmental movement with an emphasis on the Endangered Species Act.

“From Seabrook to Chernobyl: No Nukeswork in Progress,” by Harvey Wasserman, PeaceWork, July/August 1996, 6 p.

The story of “the most successful social movement of modern times” — the anti-nuclear power movement, including its roots in the nuclear weapons testing protests. Hard to read format.

“Seize the Momentum,” by Bill McKibben, Grist Magazine, March 26, 2007, 2 p.

Has the weight of opinion shifted decisively on global warming? Where does a new consensus come from? How does the zeitgeist suddenly start to shift?

“A brief history of CND,” Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, 8 p.

The history of Britain’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) since its beginning in 1958.

“The United States Antiwar Movement and the Vietnam War,” Studyworld, 11 p.

A very brief history of the anti-Vietnam war movement.

“Noam Chomksy on the Anti-War Movement,” interviewed by Matthew Tempest, The Guardian, February 4, 2003, 11 p.

The global movement against the Iraq war in 2003.

Reading Set P4: Racial/Ethnic Justice Movements

41 pages total

Review by Eric Foner of Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Raymond Arsenault, New York Times, March 19, 2006, 5 p.

in 1944, Irene Morgan, in an act of defiance that anticipated Rosa Parks’ later action, refused to give up her seat on a bus traveling from Virginia to Maryland. Convicted, she appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in 1946 that segregated seating on interstate buses violated the Constitution. Over the next two decades a series of Freedom Riders tested that ruling by riding buses through the segregated South. Good description of the roots of the Civil Rights movement.

“Visualizing a Neo-Rainbow,” by Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Danny Glover, The Nation, January 27, 2005, 10 p.

The Rainbow Coalition model of the 1980s — fusing the movement for black political power that emerged in response to the unfulfilled promise of civil rights with a wider vision of economic justice — holds clues to a winning electoral strategy for progressives.

“Mobilizing the Hip-Hop Generation,” by Jesse Alejandro Cottrell, Wiretap, April 24, 2003, 7 p.

Hip-hop is being reclaimed from the clutches of corporations by youth activists furthering movements of social change.

“Voices of a New Movimiento,” by Roberto Lovato, The Nation, June 19, 2006, 8 p.

Immigrant rights activists aren’t just focused on legalization; they have a vision of helping to create a more progressive nation.

“A Dream Three Times the Size of Texas,” by Rebecca Solnit, Tomdispatch.com, June 15, 2004, 11 p.

Relearning the past — specifically the genocidal history of the Americas — has spurred a surge of indigenous power that has transformed the face of politics in the Americas.

Reading Set P5: Women’s, Gay Rights, and Human Rights Movements

52 pages total

“Working-Class Women: On the Front Lines of Feminism,” blog entry by Tula Connell, AFL-CIO, September 3, 2006, 5 p.

Many of the women in the 1940s and 1950s who agitated for fair pay, equal access to jobs, and other fundamental workplace rights, not only laid the groundwork for the gains of the recent years, they did so from a strong foundation: Their unions.

“Living the Legacy: The Women's Rights Movement 1848–1998,” National Women’s History Project, 1998.

A brief history of the second and third waves of the women’s movement.

“Feminist Consciousness After the Women’s Movement,” by Barbara Epstein, Monthly Review, Volume 54, Number 4, September 2002, 11 p.

How and what does feminism change in the world when it becomes a cultural current rather than a movement for social change? — some thoughts on feminism in the context of the history of the women’s movement.

“Gay Rights Movement: Going Forward or Backward?” by Hugo Schwyzer, History News Network, June 13, 2005, 6 p.

Commentary on the current state of the gay rights movement.

“History of the Gay Liberation Movement & the ‘Homosexual Agenda,’ ” Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, July 23, 2002, 19 p.

An overview by decade of the gay liberation movement in bullet-point presentation style.

“International Human Rights Defenders Honoured as General Assembly Marks Fifty-Fifth Anniversary of Universal Declaration,” General Assembly of the United Nations press release, October 12, 2003.

Several very brief descriptions of global human rights work.

Additional Resources


“Disarmament Movement Lessons from Yesteryear,” by Lawrence S. Wittner, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 27, 2009, 4 p.

Protest movements against nuclear weapons started soon after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Three movements in particular — beginning with the scientists movement of the late 1940s — helped policy makers and the public think differently about the bomb.

“Green Grows Grassroots,” by Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation, July 31, 2006, 20 p.

For the first time, an African-American is at the helm of a major conservation group, signaling a step toward melding the environmental and economic justice movements and toward revitalizing grassroots efforts.

“Old-time religion,” by Harvey Cox, Boston Globe, July 9, 2006, 9 p.

Long before the age of Falwell and Robertson, evangelical Protestants from William Jennings Bryan to Billy Graham were anything but right-wing zealots. Today, a new generation of evangelical leaders are rediscovering their progressive roots. A history of religion in the U.S. and its relation to social movements with a focus on the post-WWII rise of progressive evangelicalism.

“The U.S. Labor Movement and Its Achievements,” Labor Research Association, 2001, 3 p.

A list of historical labor movement achievements and a description of current efforts.

Next Reading Set Collection:
Q. Personal and Cultural Transformation