Raising a hand for change:

Photo illustration by Stevi Breshears.

By Les Jones and Patrick Nguyen

The past year has been marked by demonstrations, marches and protests. People have marched for and against the recent presidential election and for and against gun control. From supporting women’s rights to rallying against abortion, millions have taken to the streets to demand justice and change.

People march in order to send a message, Ruth De Anda, an academic adviser, said. “That is what it is all about. Our voice is our vote just as much as marching is our voice.”

De Anda said protests and other social justice movements have the potential to transform attitudes, behavior and laws.

The Black Lives Matter movement started in 2013 in response to the Trayvon Martin murder case. Since then, the movement continues to this day.

“With Black Lives Matter we’re not saying that black lives matter more than anybody else’s, we’re just saying that right now African Americans are being targeted in different aspects of society and we’re just asking for support from society as a whole to make sure these things don’t continue to happen,” said Melodie Graves, the general studies division adviser and the chair of the Amarillo College diversity committee.

Isaiah Williams, a biology major, said Black Lives Matter has changed the way he views movements and protests in general.

“The Black Lives Matter movement broadens my perspective,” said Williams. “It shows me that there are many kinds of protests that result from problems within society.”

Graves also said that history has shown that peaceful protest is a part of African-American culture, dating all the way back to Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. “We protested then to create action,” Graves said.

Sometimes, however, marches and protests turn violent. “The protests have gotten worse, and it gets out of hand,” Jaquil Woodard, a business administration major, said.

Marches in the past have had their share of violent outcomes, from the Kent State University protest shooting of May 4, 1970, to the University of California Berkeley riots of Sept. 24, 2017. Even though some protests and marches have sparked violence, protesting is still a guaranteed right provided by the United States Constitution. De Anda pointed out that peaceful protests in the past have led to positive change.

Modern made marches mainstream, appearing on social media and broadcast live on news channels. Some students said these changes have made protests less effective at creating change. “With social media and selected news, people are able to filter out what they don’t want to see so it is not as impactful as it once was,” Elizabeth Beckham, an art major, said.

Media coverage also has the potential to make social justice movements more divisive. “Be careful about the media because it tends to make it where you can’t be for all different types of people,” said Graves.

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