Over the past decades, there have been many important social movements that brought us a progressing society, fighting against injustices and demanding change from people with power. The Civil Rights movement, to begin with, was led by Black Americans, demanding social justice and equal rights under federal law, and culminated with the Civil Rights Act 1964. Behind every social movement, stands an individual persevering for change. Brenda Howard, known as the “mother of Pride,” led the first-ever Pride Parade in 1970, establishing a huge milestone in fighting for LGBTQ rights. Lastly, The Women’s March (1913-), aimed to advocate for women’s rights in voting and voicing out, gender equality, abortion rights, etc, that carries great significance to female leaders of the world.
Each of these social movements over the years have a strong influence on social movements of the 21st century, encouraging more people to become leaders and amplify the voices of the vulnerable. Greta Thunberg, a 17-year-old environmental activist, inspired an international movement to combat climate change. As she said in a speech, “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel everyday. I want you to act. I want you to act like you would in a crisis. I want you to act like your house is on fire, because it is.” In 2018, a mass shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, ending the lives of 17 innocent people. After this tragedy, March For Our Lives and The National School Walkout was held. March For Our Lives was a student-led demonstration four days after the tragedy, namely Cameron Kasky, Alex Wind, Emma González and David Hogg, along with 1.2 million people in the States, rallying and demanding political action against gun violence. The National School Walkout was held on the one month anniversary prior to the Stoneman Doughlas shooting, with students protesting and calling out for legislative action to end gun violence. The following past and present examples demonstrate the impact of a social movement.
Social movements are purposeful, organized groups striving to work towards a common goal, attempting to create or resist change. A movement is usually started through a recent happening or happenings that arises attention from the community, seeking for change. Today, we obtain news of trending events from all over the media, this being the key that gathers public attention and opinions of users into a world issue. Online petitions are a tactic, designated by setting a goal number of petitions needed to be signed and seeking donations, that acquire support from the community to gain attention from political parties and achieve political action. The success of petitions depends on the competence of a social organization: a strong organization is able to push petitions forward, benefiting both the host of events and the causes and influencing the government of the day to take certain measures.
A social movement is then brought forward by protests and marches, such as the March on Washington, with Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, promoting racial equality. The most recent would be the Black Lives Matter movement, advocating for non-violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality and systemic oppression against Blacks in America. The killing of George Floyd, an African American murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota during an arrest for the alleged use of a counterfeit bill kicked off this movement as this tragedy inflicted pain, fear, and anger from everyone all over the world. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the George Floyd protests are held internationally, numerous people engaged in the protests, striving for justice against racial discrimination and police brutality. During the protests, protestors marched with empowering posters while wearing face masks and chanting slogans such as “No Justice, No Peace.” It has become one of the most important movements of our generation.
In just two weeks, the Minneapolis city council decided to defund the polis and furthermore, dismantle the force completely by reallocating funding away from the police department and rebranding the system. Additionally, both mayors of New York City and Los Angeles introduced the cut of the New York Police Department (NYPD) budget and redistribution of police budget towards healthcare, employment, and “healing” programs for the city’s communities of color respectively. In Denver and Dallas, measures were taken by banning the use of chokeholds. This movement has also led progress in other innocent victims of the Black such as Breonna Taylor, Ahmuad Arbery and Elijah Mcclain cases. Simultaneously, it also raised awareness for the Black Trans Community by demanding justice for lives that are lost and holding protests against potential changes to the Gender Recognition Act, which allows the trans community to change their gender by the means of law. These achievements prove that a movement is capable of carrying a powerful impact in leading change.
At the same time, Generation Z also contributes to social movements. More and more young individuals are actively learning and finding ways to get involved. We understand the importance of an issue and raise awareness about a concerning issue through social media platforms. We stay updated on what’s going on around us, and we are courageous in speaking up for what’s right.
As a member of Generation Z, you can be more involved in social movements by keeping up to date with current events and then taking the initiative to become involved. 1. Take action, 2. Sign petitions or donate funds 3. Actively participate in protests and marches. Become a youth leader and build your own organization in educating others of our own age group on relevant and important topics. Small actions can bring big impacts that you least expect. The youth plays a crucial role in the future. We should never underestimate our ability to make the world a better place because the social movements we have participated in and led have improved society and enhanced the quality of everyday life. Each of us holds a powerful voice and serves a purpose. Despite age, gender, race, and religion, it is when our authentic selves strive together in harmony, then we can successfully emphasize the impact of a social movement.
Tan Ken Ee
Transcriber, Writer, Editor, Poet
My name is Ken Ee, a team member of @Zenerations. I’m 18 and I’m from Malaysia. I’m the founder of spreading love. MY, a newly-established youth organization. I aspire to become a youth advocate to educate the younger generations on important global issues. I believe that with our voices, we are able to put them into actions for a reformed and better society.