According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘protest’ is a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something.
Protesting has been around since 1913 and described the march organised by Gandhi in regards to the restrictions inflicted on the Indian population of South Africa.
This term became more accepted throughout history as it was adapted by music and films, despite the political backlash it received. Academic Geoffrey Nunberg, found the first protest song which proved to be a huge hit was back in 1965, by Barry McGuire, “Eve of Destruction.” The lyrics used acted as an appeal for peace and understanding. Many radio stations refused to play this song on their stations arguing it breached the equal time provision however that didn’t stop this hit from reaching number one.
In 1982, the production of the first Rambo film used the term ‘protest’ however by this time people had accepted the term as just another name for a demonstration.
The largest protest to take place in the world was against the Iraq war in February 2003. Here a total of 3 million people gathered to show their anti-war support.
Protests act as form of communication for the public in a democracy to speak against decisions made by higher authorities, in attempt to hinder change by enforcing change to policies etc. Protests can take place in many different forms such as the Birmingham riots in 2011 which was the most extreme case of protesting in history due to the amount of violence involved and destruction caused to the city. Another form of protest is a strike such as teacher’s strike who are protesting for an increase in pay and student protests which involve marches around communities in regards to the vast increase in student fees.
According to Nunberg, protest is the only political action that power can’t engage in.
The question that arises from protests is whether they are effective in bringing about change? Yes, we know they get governments attention, but as a result of policies reviewed and have they ever been changed? I have lined up an interview with a protestor who will hopefully answer my questions. If you have any questions to contribute please do not hesitate to put them forward by Thursday 21st February 2013 and I will attempt to get them all answered.