David Canton, Professor of History at Connecticut College, and Jeffrey Ogbar, Professor of History at the University of Connecticut, led a conversation on the history and contemporary face of protests. They described similarities between the backlash against the Civil Rights Movement and the criticisms of Black Lives Matter. At the height of the Civil Rights Movement, roughly 63% of Americans thought the movement was “moving too fast”; today, only 43% support Black Lives Matter. Dr. Ogbar said that as long as there are protests there will be criticisms, and that protests are meant to be unpopular initially.
Participants discussed how social movements, particularly those against racism, make change. Dr. Canton said that the power of social movements is that they direct energy on institutions — changing the police, schools, or the school-to-prison pipeline. The key is to focus on institutions, not individual acts of racism or oppression. It is in cultural shifts that we will see lasting change.
Inspiration to Action