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Collective Action for Social Movements


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Collective Action for Social Movements Rosa Parks gained the title “mother of the civil rights movement” when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white person (Loeb, 2010, p. 1). This was not Parks’ first involvement in a social movement. Before this event, Parks had been involved with her local NAACP chapter for 12 years. While attending a training camp on civil rights, Parks learned about a bus boycott by a Montgomery woman that occurred the previous spring. As you can see, Parks decision not to give up her bus seat did not occur on a whim. “Rather, she was part of a longstanding effort to create change” (Loeb, 2010, p.2). The social movement for African Americans’ rights was successful due to many people working together towards a common goal. Rosa Parks worked together with others such as E. D. Nixon, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Cars Porters union, local teachers, and the Montgomery African American community (Loeb, 2010). The Chicano Movement is another example of a united group and their long journey to accomplish rights for Mexican Americans. On the morning of March 3, 1968, over a thousand students walked down the streets of East Los Angeles (Muñoz, 1989). By the end of the day, ten thousand students had joined the movement. The protest “disrupted the largest school district in the nation” (Muñoz, 1989, p. xi). The protest lasted a week and a half. It was the first large scale protest of Mexican Americans and its major purpose was to “protest racist teachers and school policies, the lack of freedom of speech, the lack of teachers of Mexican descent, and the absence of classes on Mexican and Mexican American culture and history” (Muñoz, 1989, p. xi). “It was the first loud cry for Chicano Power and self-determination, serving as the catalyst for the formation of the Chicano student movement as well as the larger Chicano Power Movement of which it became the most important sector” (Muñoz, 1989, p. 66).

Rosa parks and those who assisted her were just a small part of the civil rights movement. The efforts of Rosa Parks and the Chicano Movement illustrate how more can be achieved collectively instead of individually. As a result, social movements are stronger which results in them being sustainable. The results that were accomplished could not have been done by just one person. It was achieved by a collective action. “Social movements launch collective action to influence those who make decisions about the distribution of benefits in a society” (Goldberg, 2010, p. 65).


Goldberg, R. A. (2010). The challenge of change: Social movements as non-state actors. Utah
Law Review, (1), 65–79.
Loeb, P. R. (2010). Soul of a citizen: Living with conviction in challenging times (Rev. ed.). New
York, NY: St. Martin's Griffin.
Muñoz, C. (1989). Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Generation. London, NY: Verso.

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