Social Movement History

S O C I A L  M O V E M E N T  H I S T O R Y 

While our solutions must reflect the needs of today, there is much to learn from past social movements about sustained resistance in creating effective change.

Integral to the narrative of PeaceUp is the idea of drawing from past social movements, all the while rediscovering them by setting aside the 

traditional lens of dominant culture education. Conventional history is taught to us from the limited perspective of those who've seized power, and should therefore be recognized as biased. Our responsibility as agents of change is to actively “dig in” to understand the broader perspective of history. A great start is Howard Zinn'sA People's History of the United States” or Grace Lee Bogg’sThe Next American Revolution”.

Looking at resistance in this country, we quickly realize that change never happened over night – that days of action will not suffice when we speak of a paradigm shift. That genuine sacrifice – whether it be Alice Paul's 22-day hunger strike or the Freedom Riders signing their wills before boarding buses – is inevitable. A realization that for many of us can be terrifying, even paralyzing. For PeaceUp, the transformative power of SONG has played a huge role in overcoming the inclination to stagnate. Singing together lifts our spirits, while deepening our sense of solidarity, making us feel that we're part of something much bigger. In difficult times, it empowers us, carrying us forward on our path of resistance. Songs taken from past social movements have inspired us to do our research, while also giving us an opportunity to integrate the sentiment and spirit of resisters who have come before us.

“We’ll be a movement when we sing like a movement.” - Tim DeChristopher

OUR CHALLENGE TO YOU:  Dig into the past by yourself or with your community, find aspects of past social movements that resonate with you or that you feel are absent today, while looking for novel and creative ways to incorporate them into your work. What can we gain from the tactics, strategies and visions of the past? And at your next community meeting, try singing a song at the beginning of the meeting to bring heart and soul to your work.