| By Kathy Edgar |
“Not one more!” “Refugees welcome!” “I can’t breathe!” “No Medicaid! No Life!”
“We want our country back!” “Resist!” #MeToo.
These slogans have echoed throughout various protests held within the last few years. Some chants, such as “Not one more” and “I can’t breathe” were used in the United States to protest gun violence in schools and police brutality against African Americans, respectively. Others, such as “Refugees welcome” and “We want our country back” were used in numerous countries either to urge government leaders to allow in refugees or, in the latter instance, to cease taking in refugees and immigrants.
U·X·L Protests, Riots, and Rebellions: Civil Unrest in the Modern World—available in print and eBook format on our GVRL platform—covers the movements and protests related to these slogans as well as past events that paved the way for protests making today’s headlines.
Protests take many forms. People use petitions and letters to demand lawmakers enact legislation. Or they stage peaceful street protests and marches to call for action. Some stage strikes and boycotts to rally against unfair or unethical corporate practices. And others resort to violent riots and rebellions to bring about change. Today, activists use hashtags on Twitter or posts on social media to raise awareness and provoke discussion.
Some movements take many years to effect change. For example, climate change issues are a major priority in Europe, but less than half of Americans (48 percent according to Pew Research) believed that human activity was linked to climate change in 2016. Still, rising temperatures and sea levels prompt environmental protests throughout the globe.
Other movements gain momentum due to tragic events or persistent mass demonstrations. For instance, gun reform in the United States saw little action for decades despite many mass shootings. Despite protests calling for an end to easy access to assault-style weapons, little changed after the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School (2012 in Newtown, Connecticut) and at a concert in Las Vegas, Nevada (2017), among others.
When a former student killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018, however, surviving students began a series of powerful protests demanding change. They demonstrated at the state capitol, confronted politicians and lobbyists on cable news shows, met with the president, and led the massive March for Our Lives in Washington, DC, and other cities in the United States and throughout the world. As the students’ pleas continue, so do their threats to vote out politicians who refuse to act.
The 20th century also saw many effective protests. The efforts of reformers such as Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, “the great-grandmother of all agitators,” brought about dramatic changes in US labor law, particularly concerning the employment of children. Many activists pushed for the creation of a 40-hour work week, workplace safety standards, and other laws to protect workers. Labor unions such as the United Automobile Workers of America (UAW) formed to help workers, and on occasion led strikes to demand better wages or working conditions.
In the 21st century, fast food workers and other laborers protest for $15 per hour in an era in which some corporate CEOs make several hundred times more than average workers. Stagnant wage growth and income inequality coupled with a worldwide recession and austerity measures have prompted people around the world to protest and even riot. Activists have voiced concerns about the influence that the wealthy have on politics and politicians throughout the globe.
Many of these protests are featured in Protests, Riots, and Rebellions, the new U·X·L three-volume set geared to middle school readers. Containing 21 chapters that begin with an overview of the topic, followed by three to five events, the set is richly illustrated with many colorful photographs and historical black and white images to bring the protests to life. Chapter topics include Animal Rights; Civil Rights, African American; Economic Discontent; the Environment; Gun Control/Gun Rights; Immigrant Rights; Indigenous Peoples’ Rights; LGBTQ Rights; Political/Government Uprisings; Racial Conflict; War Protests; Women’s Rights; and more. Additional protests are described in sidebars. The set features a Words to Know section, For More Information list, and an illustrated Chronology.
So take a moment to learn more about protests, riots, and rebellions that have helped shape the United States and other countries around the globe, from the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963) and the student protests at Tiananmen Square (1989) to the Global Frackdown (beginning in 2012) and the Women’s March on Washington (2017).