Are protests necessary for social change?

Protests have played an important role in our society in relation to civil rights and social change. After widespread attendance at larger protests like the Women’s March, DAPL, and March for Science, as well as localized Black Lives Matter rallies after the killings of Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, and Michael Brown, critics and supporters alike are wondering whether marching actually changes anything. You decide — are protests necessary for social change?


Researchers Examine The Psychology Of Protest Movements

Those Raised Fists Still Resonate, 50 Years Later

The Civil Rights Landscape Today for People of Color

Additional resources to think about

Protest and Politics 
This curriculum from Annenberg Learner Essential Lens collection compiles photographs and facts into a story of protests from the 1960s and how student uprisings changed history.

The Long, Necessary History Of 'Whiny' Black Protesters At College
To many people, the recent protests cropping up in colleges across the country represent a new generation of students that are over-sensitive and entitled. But according to one reporter, these demands aren't new.

These California Teens are Ready to Enact Change After the Parkland Shooting
This PBS NewsHour video from the Student Reporting Labs shows how California teens are encouraging protest on both sides of the gun restriction argument.


Who created this message?

  • What kind of “text” is it?
  • How similar or different is it to others of the same genre?
  • What are the various elements (building blocks) that make up the whole?


What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

  • What do you notice (about the way the message is constructed)?
  • What’s the emotional appeal?
  • What makes it seem “real?”
  • Are there any symbols? Persuasive devices used?

How might different people understand this message differently from me?

  • How many other interpretations could there be?
  • How could we hear about them?
  • How can you explain the different responses?

What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

  • What type of person is the reader/watcher/listener invited to identify with?
  • What ideas or perspectives are left out?
  • How would you find what’s missing?
  • What judgments or statements are made about how we treat other people?


Why is this message being sent?

  • What's being sold in this message? What's being told? 
  • Who is served by or  benefits from the message
    – the public?
    – private interests?
    – individuals?
    – institutions?

5 Key Questions of Media Literacy used with permission from the Center for Media Literacy.
Copyright 2002-2020, Center for Media Literacy,


Are protests necessary for social change?

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