Tomorrow We Vote

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Lesson 7: Learn About the Power of Protesting


This lesson connects with the current climate which may be confusing to some young people who don’t know about the history of protesting. They have witnessed a lot these past few years and the death of George Floyd sparking international protests could be jarring. But when you look at the history of protests, it falls in line with American values which leads to which way one may vote. Check out this lesson and discuss on TWVocalize.

Transcript:

As the world protests against police brutality ignited by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, we should take a look at protests that resulted in change in policies in the USA. Let’s start this!

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year old Black man died in the custody of Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Derek Chauvin (who is White) after he kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes – ignoring Floyd’s pleas of help due to lack of oxygen. This video-recorded incident sparked outrage, at first nationwide, and then worldwide resulting in protests, riots, and looting and calling for police reform – which some cities are now seriously considering despite criticism from elected officials. But in what ways have other protests resulted in change in policies? Let’s go way back to find out.

One of the earliest protests in American history was the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773. While Britain was in debt in the 1760s, the British Parliament felt it necessary to impose taxes on the American colonists to pay them. This led to taxing on printed paper down to glass and lead. Furious at being taxed unfairly or “without representation”, they took to the streets..or, Boston’s Griffin’s Warf specifically, and dumped 342 chests of imported British East India Company tea into the harbor. This sparked a 13-colony revolt against Britain eventually leading to independence.

One of the most famous protests was the Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give her seat on a bus to a White passenger due to racial segregation. This led to the boycotting of city buses. Choosing to carpool or walk, it took 13 months and the financial collapse of the bus company before the Supreme Court ruled segregation on public buses unconstitutional.

The March on Washington DC on August 28, 1963 is credited with building support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. So, when you see protesters, stop and listen to their voices and messages. Don’t let the noise distract you about riots or looters. That only delays the progress which could change this country for the better.

How much further would we be as a society if those who had protested for basic human rights and equality under the law had only been listened to?

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