Organizing for Social Change – Adam

The Organizing for Social Change reading was insightful. I found myself reflecting on different systems of oppression in history, and how those oppressed by the system overcame it. All of those individuals came together as a unified whole; an organization.  They had to organize all their actions; everyone had to follow the guidelines of the movement, and if one individual went against the grain, it could compromise the entire movement.

While I’ve never really been a part of any “movement,” this goes double for any organization I’ve ever been a part of. Whether it’s General Shelton Leadership Challenge, Alpha Phi Omega Community Service Fraternity, or a high school musical, we are working toward a common goal.  Any discord affects the overall mood and efficacy of the group.  In order for us to be successful, everyone had to be committed. It was not important just to participate; everyone had to identify with the goal we were working toward. In this sense, it is not just the quantity of individuals in a group but the mentality as a whole that will determine their success in organizing for social change, counseling youth, planning and implementing a service project, or simply putting on a show.

In one paragraph, the author mentions how one individual has little power to change their own life conditions, but how a group can accomplish a great deal when they organize collectively.  This was most prevalent for me when I went to see The Parchman Hour at my job last night.  The Parchman Hour is a play about the Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights Movement and their struggles. I saw this as organizing for social change at its finest, and it also gave me insight to the inner conflict that the group had among themselves. In one scene, the riders were arguing from their jail cells about organizing a hunger strike to improve conditions in the jail. They stressed that “if we do this, it can’t just be some; it has to be all of us.” The group understood the power of the collective as opposed to the power of the individual. They understood the lack of commitment of one person could be the difference between achieving their goal and falling short. More importantly, they understood the importance of nonviolence in the larger movement that they were fighting for, and there was also conflict between them about whether it was acceptable for one person to stray from this practice. Even though all was not fair and righteous in the U.S. by the end of the play, all of them were willing to stay committed to the movement, and it is presumed that this mentality led to their eventual success in achieving equality.


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