An Ineffective Civil Disobedience

Civil disobedience is the refusal to observe specific laws and is a peaceful way of protest. Throughout history, civil disobedience has been utilized as a way to protest against unjust and biased laws, examples of these peaceful protests are sit ins, marches, and hunger strikes. Civil disobedience is an effective way for there to be change in laws and ways of life. Minority groups of citizens in the United States have fought for voting rights since the formation of the country in 1776. In 1872, Susan B. Anthony, a well-known leader for womens suffrage, voted in the presidential election which was illegal at the time. She later said, I not only committed no crime, but, instead, simply exercise my citizens rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution beyond the power of any state to deny (Anthony 182). Anthony explained in her speech that she had voted but was doing what she believed should be guaranteed for every citizen. Because of simple acts of civil disobedience, such as Anthony voting, women were officially allowed to vote in the United States in 1920. Voting equality was not completely resolved in 1920, but it was the beginning for a new wave of supporters for other minority groups, such as African Americans. On March 7, 1965, Alabama state troopers attacked a group of peaceful protestors a part of a Selma to Montgomery march that was for voting rights with nightsticks, tear gas and whips.

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This act of civil disobedience was met with a horrible outcome but made major strides in achieving equal voting rights. On August 6, 1965, the voting rights act of 1965 was passed which enforced the outlaw of biased and unfair voting practices that had been adopted in several southern states after the Civil War which further proves the power of peaceful civil disobedience. Previous to the voting rights act of 1965, African Americans had also fought the United States laws of segregation for years.In early United States history, African Americans had significantly fewer, even close to zero, rights compared to that of a white, male landowner. Over time, the government gave more rights to African Americans and other minority groups. In the 20th century, Martin Luther King Jr. led marches and protest as an act of civil disobedience to fight against segregation of public areas. On August 23, 1963, the March on Washington occurred to advocate for civil and economic rights for African Americans.

This act of civil disobedience had roughly 200,000 to 300,000 participants and helped further the pressure and demand to increase rights to minorities. Sit-ins were another form of protest that was carried out, the Greensboro sit-in as one of the first major sit-ins and began in 1960. In Greensboro, North Carolina, a group of African-American students arranged a sit-in located in a segregated Woolworths lunch counter. When denied service, the students refused to leave and although many of these protesters and protesters in areas where the idea of sit-ins spread were arrested for trespassing or disturbing the peace, the effect of their actions would lead to establishments changing policies. Some may argue that civil disobedience is not effective in changing laws that are labeled as unjust by a group. On February 14, 2018, there was a mass school shooting that occurred at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which ended with the death of 17 students and staff members. Around the United States, high schools and middle schools organized walk outs during class hours to protest against gun violence and gun laws. The walk outs were a peaceful way to convey the thoughts and prayers sent by these participants and fight against gun restrictions and laws that are in place.

One may say that although many were involved in this act of civil disobedience, there have been no major or effective changes in state or federal laws. Another example of an ineffective civil disobedience occurrence was with the occupy movement in 2011. The occupy movement was carried out by groups who camped out in cities and rallied in parks to protest against social and economic inequality. Gandhi, an activist from India, once said, No country has ever become, or will ever become, happy through victory in war (Gandhi 176). Gandhi states that no violence will lead to a better solution, but a peaceful movement will have more of an effect. The occupy movement was peaceful and gained media acknowledgment but was unable to fix any laws or stipulations. The peaceful protest of groups going to the streets did not help any problem but only improved the already large awareness of economic problems.

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An Ineffective Civil Disobedience. (2019, May 05). Retrieved November 26, 2022 , from

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