LESSON THREE
Anatomy of a Protest

“Get in good trouble, necessary trouble,
and redeem the soul of America.”
  – John Lewis

LESSON THREE
Anatomy of a Protest

Images Courtesy of SELMA INTRODUCTION ACTIVITIES

Key themes

Protest and Power

Participants will analyze the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery for the issues it aimed to solve, the methods used to garner attention, the tactics of the protest itself and its call to action.

Objectives

At the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:
  • Identify the components of a protest and use them to create a “Protest Playbook”
  • Understand what makes a protest successful
  • Outline ways citizens can take an active role in the community and drive positive social change

There are two activities in this lesson.

Image Courtesy of SELMA

Key themes

Protest and Power

Participants will analyze the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery for the issues it aimed to solve, the methods used to garner attention, the tactics of the protest itself and its call to action.

Objectives

At the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:
  • Identify the components of a protest and use them to create a “Protest Playbook”
  • Understand what makes a protest successful
  • Outline ways citizens can take an active role in the community and drive positive social change

There are two activities in this lesson.

Image Courtesy of SELMA

LESSON THREE

Introduction

Protests are largely used to bring attention to injustices and to vocalize specific demands for tangible changes. Some deem a protest successful if it directly influences new legislation. Others argue that new legislation will only lead to substantial change if it is enforced, and ensuring the implementation of this enforcement is usually a hard-fought battle in and of itself.
Protests have been an active form of demonstration throughout history dating back to the 13th Century Peasants’ Revolt in Europe all the way to the current, highly tactical protests in Hong Kong.  Protests come in many forms and are customized to the best method that serves the message and ultimate goal of the protest. When the specific components of a protest are analyzed, learners are able to understand how each part contributes to the overall execution and success of a protest.
When components of protests/civil movements are examined throughout history, it is important to be aware of any bias that could be placed on the protest/movement by the person or entity reporting on it. As you move through this section and learn about protests throughout history, keep in mind who is telling the story and how partial the writer is to the story.
When we think about the evolution of protests in the United States, we are able to see how many of the foundational tactics can still be leveraged today. How may the protests in the 21st Century fit into history’s long arc of change?

LESSON THREE

Activity I.

Creating a “Protest Playbook”

The goal of this activity is to learn about the components of a protest and learn how to craft a successful protest by creating a Protest Playbook.

Step 1

Watch this video about crafting a successful protest

Step 2

Work individually or as a group to identify a cause or issue to support. This can be a local cause, a national cause or an international cause.

Step 3

Once a cause is identified, create a symbol and/or slogan to be used to bring attention and support to the issue.

Step 4

Decide on what type of protest you will have (for example, online or in person) and outline the logistics/rules of how it will be executed.

Step 5

Research how you will measure the success of your protest. Determine the ideal next steps/outcomes to create the change you’re trying to achieve with the protest.

STEP 1: Watch this video about crafting a successful protest

STEP 2: Work individually or as a group to identify a cause or issue to support. This can be a local cause, a national cause or an international cause.

STEP 3: Once a cause is identified, create a symbol and/or slogan to be used to bring attention and support to the issue.

STEP 4: Decide on what type of protest you will have (for example, online or in person) and outline the logistics/rules of how it will be executed.

STEP 5: Research how you will measure the success of your protest. Determine the ideal next steps/outcomes to create the change you’re trying to achieve with the protest.

Use the resources below to outline how your protest will be conducted.
You will be building your Protest Playbook.

Use the resources below to outline how your protest will be conducted. You will be building your Protest Playbook.

Identify a cause or issue

Do Your Research #1:

A helpful way to identify a cause or issue to support is to review the propositions (community issues) on the ballots of your local elections.

Resource #1: This site allows you to look up any county / state in the country and see what propositions are on the local ballot.

Do Your Research #2:

Oftentimes, an issue your community is struggling with may also be happening in other communities. Examine national and even international causes that are being protested.

Resource #2: Here is a database of all the major / large scale protests occurring around the world.

Create a symbol, and/or slogan

Do Your Research #1:

Creating a protest symbol and/or slogan is about understanding what resonates with the people supporting the issue as well as making a statement that is clear and brief.

Resource #1: Read this article which provides examples of Black justice slogans and symbols that were used in activism before the “Black Lives Matter” slogan you may be familiar with today.

Do Your Research #2:

Sometimes more powerful than a slogan is a symbol or icon. Unifying colors, insignias, pictures, motifs, etc. can all accurately convey the goal or mission of a protest or cause without any words.

Resource #2: Here is an article that gives examples of protest symbols across the globe as well as symbols that multiple groups used in different points in history.

Decide on the type of protest

Do Your Research #1:

Protests are not always a physical march out in the streets. There can be many types of protests (and combinations of those types) to best fit the cause you want to support.

Resource #1: This document provides examples of the many types of protests you can organize.

Do Your Research #2:

Governments have laws around how citizens can legally protest, such as required permits, rules around photos/videos, etc. Review your rights for the type of protest you want to execute.

Resource #2: Read what your rights are at a protest.

Measure the success of your protest

Do Your Research #1:

While protesting to help drive change in our communities is important, it is more important to have a specific goal(s) in mind of what you hope the protest will accomplish (e.g., a change in a specific law(s), change in behavior(s), change in access to resources, etc.).

Resource #1: Review these five protests across the globe that resulted in a change. Note that the change achieved was not always immediate and sometimes took years, even decades, to accomplish

STEP 1

Identify a cause or issue

Do Your Research #1:

A helpful way to identify a cause or issue to support is to review the propositions (community issues) on the ballots of your local elections.

Resource #1: This site allows you to look up any county / state in the country and see what propositions are on the local ballot.

Do Your Research #2:

Oftentimes, an issue your community is struggling with may also be happening in other communities. Examine national and even international causes that are being protested.

Resource #2: Here is a database of all the major / large scale protests occurring around the world.

STEP 2

Create a symbol, and/or slogan

Do Your Research #1:

Creating a protest symbol and/or slogan is about understanding what resonates with the people supporting the issue as well as making a statement that is clear and brief.

Resource #1: Read this article which provides examples of Black justice slogans and symbols that were used in activism before the “Black Lives Matter” slogan you may be familiar with today.

Do Your Research #2:

Sometimes more powerful than a slogan is a symbol or icon. Unifying colors, insignias, pictures, motifs, etc. can all accurately convey the goal or mission of a protest or cause without any words.

Resource #2: Here is an article that gives examples of protest symbols across the globe as well as symbols that multiple groups used in different points in history.

STEP 3

Decide on the type of protest

Do Your Research #1:

Protests are not always a physical march out in the streets. There can be many types of protests (and combinations of those types) to best fit the cause you want to support.

Resource #1: This document provides examples of the many types of protests you can organize.

Do Your Research #2:

Governments have laws around how citizens can legally protest, such as required permits, rules around photos/videos, etc. Review your rights for the type of protest you want to execute.

Resource #2: Read what your rights are at a protest.

STEP 4

Measure the success of your protest

Do Your Research #1:

While protesting to help drive change in our communities is important, it is more important to have a specific goal(s) in mind of what you hope the protest will accomplish (e.g., a change in a specific law(s), change in behavior(s), change in access to resources, etc.).

Resource #1: Review these five protests across the globe that resulted in a change. Note that the change achieved was not always immediate and sometimes took years, even decades, to accomplish

Reflection Questions

  • Explain to the other participants how the protest you decided to support clearly articulates a call to action.
  • What are examples of recent protests that utilize the same components we analyzed?
  • What are the similarities and differences between the march from Selma to Montgomery and modern-day protests/public demonstrations?
  • What cinematic moments stand out to you in how the filmmaker told the story of this march and the events leading up to it? Why do you think the filmmaker made these choices?

LESSON THREE

Activity II.

Putting the Playbook in Action

Procedure

Play Part I of the video.

Download the Anatomy of a Protest lesson plan.

Participants will create a media campaign to bring awareness to the different covert or overt problems surrounding voting and political expression.

Image Courtesy of SELMA

Continuing from what was learned in the “Do Your Research” and “Resources” sections from the previous “Protest Playbook” activity, participants should develop a mini campaign for their own protest that can be supported by citizens of all ages.

Protest campaigns should reflect the passion for the cause they’re representing. By having confidence in one’s voice and beliefs, which can be communicated through a campaign, participants will walk through six foundational steps to help infuse that confidence in the design of their own campaign.

Using the cause you identified in Activity 1, create 1-2 sentence answers for each category.

Campaign Purpose

Why is your cause important?

Target Audience

Who are the people being affected by the cause you chose? OR Who are the people who need to change how they behave in order to be fair/equitable to the people affected by your cause?

Messaging

What are the important points or “key messages” you want your target audience to remember or understand?

Call-to-Action

What are one or two direct actions that can be done to drive the change you are hoping to make?

Visuals

What are powerful, but clear and simple symbols, icons, unifying colors, insignias, pictures, motifs, etc. that represent your message and/or relate to your target audience without requiring words (or more than a couple of words)?

Ways to Engage Audience

What are some tactics to help engage your target audience? Think about how to engage your audience not just once, but many times, over a long period of time.

Discussion Prompt

On June 22, 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the 26th Amendment, which is an extension of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that required the voting age to be 18 in all federal, state and local elections.

Discussion Questions

  • Should high school students (freshmen through seniors) be allowed to vote or should the age limit remain at 18? What are your thoughts on students being allowed to vote at the age of 16?
  • How can young adults exercise their activism in a way that is unique to their generation and culture?

LESSON THREE

Digging Deeper with SELMA Online

“In 1965, students in Selma, Alabama stood up for the right to vote. Youth, even those who were not old enough to vote, played active roles throughout the civil rights movement. They walked through hostile mobs to integrate all-white schools in Little Rock, Arkansas and elsewhere. College students in Greensboro, North Carolina, started the lunch counter sit-ins that quickly spread across the South. Students from all over boarded buses to the Deep South to participate in the Freedom Rides and traveled to Mississippi to register Black voters during Freedom Summer in 1964. What new issues do we face today? What would you be willing to march for?”
What’s next?

Lesson 3: Anatomy of Protest

What’s next?

Lesson 3: Anatomy of Protest

What’s next?

Lesson 3: Anatomy of Protest

Selma