Social Movements Activity

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Talking about social movements in abstract, textbooky language can make them seem pretty dry, but in fact, they are fascinating things that have made a major difference in our society and in the world.  When you think about how passionate people feel about the issues they care about, and how far people will go–including losing their lives–in support of that cause, it is both inspiring (when we think about the movements we agree with), and scary (when we think about people we’d consider terrorists, for example).

For this exercise, please select THREE of the following people, all famous for their involvement in a social movement, and do some research about each one.  Use whatever sources you wish, being sure they are credible sources.  In your research, focus on learning about what social movement this person was involved in, what got that person involved in the first place, and what they contributed to that movement and our society.  You may choose from:

  • Gloria Steinem
  • Fannie Lou Hamer
  • Stokley Carmichael
  • Julian Bond
  • Brenda Howard
  • Cesar Chavez

After you have read a bit about your three selected activists, write a response paper, two pages or more in length, in which you discuss what you learned from reading about them and from your textbook reading on social movements.  Your response should include:

  • What drives people to participate in a social movement?
  • Are you involved in any social movements, and if not, can you imagine yourself being involved?  Why/why not?
  • How does what you read compare with what you normally think of when you think of an activist?

You do not need to summarize your reading on each activist, but you should provide specific details that you learned about each one to support your points in your paper.

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