North Texas Daily

Before taking to the streets, protesters should consider this

Before taking to the streets, protesters should consider this

Before taking to the streets, protesters should consider this
January 19
11:07 2017

Preston Mitchell | Opinion Editor

Donald Trump’s inauguration is on Friday and as expected, protests are being devised to take place across the nation.

According to the Washington Times, these protests are predicted to outdo those that occurred during Richard Nixon’s 1973 inauguration. “More than 25,000 activists marched and dozens [of them] were arrested” that day.

Even in Denton, the UNT Sanctuary Taskforce has confirmed another protest at the Library Mall for Friday. And if protesters are rising up here, you can only imagine the anti-authoritative seeds that are growing in the remaining DFW.

But what’s really going to come out of these protests? Bystanders will get disrupted, plenty of protesters will be arrested and more organizations like the Sanctuary Taskforce will send letters that sit in President Smatresk’s figurative pile of requests. Lather, rinse, repeat.

While I support subliminal middle fingers to autocratic leadership, jumping on a social justice bandwagon is more of a disturbance than a protest nowadays. If protesters really want to make a change, they need to borrow from some of the greatest protests of all time.

The most relevant of them, considering MLK Day was Monday, is the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. Intended to push legislation to end Jim Crow laws once and for all, the political rally led into the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Furthermore, Dr. King’s involvement in the three marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama (March 7 to 25, 1965) saw numerous unarmed marchers assaulted with tear gas and billy clubs by policemen. Despite the injuries and deaths that ensued, the marches became the main catalysts for the Voting Rights of Act of 1965.

Although historians hail Martin Luther King Jr. as a peaceful icon – and rightfully so – the reverend spent his career making radical speeches and writings that public schools rarely cite.

In his book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community,” Dr. King asked, “Why does white America delude itself, and how does it rationalize the evil it retains?” He later wrote that white Americans live in “a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity” to “consider themselves sincerely committed to [black] justice.”

Of course, King couldn’t have reached success without an inspiration: Mahatma Gandhi.

On March 12, 1930, Gandhi began his 24-day Salt March, where over 60,000 Indians marched about 240 miles from his ashram to the Arabian Sea. British rule prevented them from collecting or selling salt, which was a heavily taxed commodity at the time.

In nonviolent fashion, Gandhi and his supporters collected salt from the Arabian Sea, breaking British laws and encouraging civil disobedience for over a decade. In 1947, India finally won its independence and Gandhi was murdered a year later.

Lastly, a horrific, but iconic image in protest history is the self-burning of Quang Duc on June 11, 1963, in Ho Chi Minh City. Scorched into the minds of everyone who’s seen it, the purpose of the Buddhist monk’s suicide was to “protest alleged persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government.”

Unlike Dr. King or Gandhi, Duc literally made a political statement out of his death – an act which has influenced subsequent battles against government oppression.

Naturally, history is more than just the actions of these three men. It’s a social science predicated by war, famine, freedom and politics of all kinds. In order to change history for the better, protesters must be willing to challenge laws and authority at all costs.

Remarkable protests go beyond sacrificing class and work schedules to roam the streets. If you’re going to do it on Friday or in the years ahead, stop tweeting about “being woke,” go outside and turn cities upside down for your cause.

Once protesters do that again, I’m certain that more solutions will happen.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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