Progressive political resistance has been on the rise since Donald Trump took office. But social organizing and movement-building aren’t new, and activists can learn important lessons about how to persist during tough political times from organizers of past social movements.
In the June 29 episode of “The Progressive Happy Hour,” co-hosts Drew Courtney and Cici Battle sat down with PFAW board member and professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania Dr. Mary Frances Berry to unpack some of those lessons, outlined in her book History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times.
Dr. Berry emphasized that activists must think strategically about their organizing and learn what works and what doesn’t. She shared, “Keep your goal simple so you can explain it. With the Vietnam War, it was ‘stop the draft.’ Say what it is you want done.” She also emphasized that calls to action should also be short and directive: “[Give people] one simple thing that you want them to do.”
Dr. Berry encouraged activists who want to get involved to be nimble, flexible and “doggedly persistent.” She said, “People in power who don’t agree with what you’re doing always think your movement will go away. Don’t give up. You have to be persistent.”
Drew and Cici also react to this week’s Supreme Court decisions and the news of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.
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