Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is known as one of the quintessential leaders of the civil rights movement. To fight against racism in America, King used a tactic known as civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is the act of disobeying or ignoring laws in order to expose something that is unfair or wrong in society and ultimately bring about reform. Dr. King is known for using disobedient tactics in order to demonstrate the horror of racism in America, and the Jim Crowe Laws.
Dr. King used methods such as sit ins, marches, rallies, protests, and speeches in order to reveal the violence and injustices of racism in society. All King’s methods were non-violent protests. His philosophy was that by not fighting back against societies violence, he could show how inhumane racism was.
King’s most famous march is known as the “Marchon Washington.” Many civil rights activists organized this protests, where thousands of Americans gathered in front of the historic Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. It is there that King delivered his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. The March on Washington ultimately helped spur many other protests/marches, and helped lead to equal rights for black Americans. These types of “non-violent” protests and rallies are still in use today, and can even be found at the University of Michigan.
On Tuesday, September 3oth, at about 6:00 pm, hundreds of University of Michigan students gathered in the diag, and then marched to university president Mark Schlissel’s lawn. There, they protested for the firing of athletic director Dave Brandon. The physical protest lasted about an hour, but didn’t end there…
In the age of the Internet and social media, protests like these expand past the physical rally, they move onto the news, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, websites, etc. Like the March on Washington, the students march was to show something they felt was wrong (obviously they are on two completely different levels and I am not comparing the merit of the two). Ultimately, as more and more people see these rallies through the media, the message behind the rally grows.
Take the case of Dave Brandon; the story of him, Shane Morris’s concussion, and the students’ protests was heard all over the country. Millions of people were talking about Dave Brandon and his role as athletic director. The media coverage attention received by this story, and knowing that the student body did not want him, ultimately had to put a lot of stress on Brandon, and had to be a major reason he resigned.
Now lets look at a case related to civil rights: the Ferguson case. Unless you live under a rock, you are at least somewhat familiar with the Ferguson case at this point. Well just in case you do live under a rock, here’s the really short version.
A black unarmed teen- Michael Brown- was shot to death by a white officer- Darren Wilson- in Ferguson, Missouri. Upon a jury deciding not to indict Wilson, riots have emerged across the country.
This has risen as a modern civil rights case. Many feel that officer Wilson was acting in a racist manner. That he was being prejudice and had no means using a firearm in the situation. People across the country are debating Wilson’s main frame, and attentions.
No matter how you feel about the case, one thing is certain, the case has taken over American news and social media. It is amazing how a story can travel throughout the country so quickly through technology. Technology has ultimately created another form of protest outside of the physical sense. Yes people are physically protesting the case, but they are also talking about it on tv, writing about it on websites and blogs, writing their opinions on social media. The word and message of the case is being spread through the Internet and television, and because people are familiar with the case, they are talking about it.
Now imagine if the television, the Internet, and social media were around when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was alive. King was able to get his point across to Americans with no technology, simply by his actions. Imagine if #Ihaveadream was trending on Twitter, or on your newsfeed, or replayed by every news station, racism would be expunged in days. The case in Fergusosn, Missouri is a small glimpse of how King could have exposed social injustices through modern technology.