Do Protests Still Matter?

Protest at the airport

alexa mazzarello (CC0)

July 9, 2017
(was 06.26.2016)

When you don't have a voice, when you feel like lawmakers just won't listen to you, protest is one way of capturing the world's attention. From Selma to Ferguson, Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park, political demonstrations have made history. But have they worked? This hour we explore the effectiveness of political protest.

  1. Why Protest Is Broken

    In 2011, Micah White helped launch one of the largest protest movements in a generation. He's had a lot of time to think about the legacy of Occupy Wall Street in the five years since, and he' s come to a surprising conclusion -- he believes protest is broken. He says activists have been using the same outdated scripts for decades and need to innovate in order to change the world. 

    Average: 5 (3 votes)
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  2. Barney Frank On Why Protests Don't Work

    Former Congressman Barney Frank believes that if you want to see political change, don't go to a demonstration. Instead, lobby your local representatives and vote. He spoke to Steve Paulson about effective grassroots organizing, and why the gay rights movement was so successful in the US.

    Average: 4.3 (4 votes)
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  3. Taking It To the Streets

    Since 2009, activist Cat Brooks has been leading protests against police violence in the Oakland area. She spoke about a recent protest she organized in reponse to a police sex scandal, and explains the value of disruptive actions in the Black Lives Matter Movement.

    Average: 3.7 (6 votes)
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  4. A Lifelong Activist

    Joseph Scheidler has been called the "godfather" of the anti-abortion movement. He's the founder of the Pro-Life Action League, and back in 1985 he published a seminal book on closing abortion clinics that's since inspired countless other activists. He spoke about what he's learned from his four decades as an activist.

    Average: 3 (2 votes)
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  5. The Craft Of Protesting

    Why is it that some protest movements force seismic change whereas others quickly burn out? Mark Engler is a journalist based in Philadelphia who believes there's a craft to protest. In "This Is An Uprising," he writes about a series of principles all activists can follow regardless of the cause.

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  6. Overcoming Fear Through Protest

    Egyptian psychiatrist Basma Abdel Aziz has long counseled survivors of torture and political repression, and she writes about the collective trauma inflicted by brutal autocratic regimes. Her latest novel, "The Queue," takes place after a popular revolution has toppled one dictator, only to have another faceless authority take his place. She says that even though present-day Egypt resembles the country under Hosni Mubarak, the Tahrir Sqare protests transformed the nation in a very important way -- they helped embolden citizens who for decades were gripped by fear.

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