5 Social movements that changed the course of the world and history

movements that changed the course of the world and history

The social mobilizations with the greatest global influence have been led by leading figures who decided to dedicate their lives to the service of humanity. They, with great consistency and determination, managed to change the course of history.

When talking about a social conflict that demands changes in the community, it refers to a sequence of demonstrations promoted by people who have suffered some form of injustice, for reasons of race, skin color or gender. It also refers to those who have been affected by the current climate crisis, unleashing great transformations throughout the history of humanity.

Also read: 10 Institutions That Protect Human Rights in the World

1. Civil Rights Movement (USA)

It was a sequence of strikes and demonstrations mainly led by African-American citizens who demanded equal rights, respect and access to justice, against laws that discriminated against them because of their skin color. The civil rights movement in the United States took place from 1955 to 1969.

Racial discrimination and other forms of intolerance gave rise to this movement whose struggle was peaceful. The direct consequence of this social movement was the granting of the vote to the black population and the enactment of the historic North American Civil Rights Act in 1964 that prohibited racial segregation.

Martin Luther King was a crucial figure in the nonviolent fight for equal rights for African Americans. From his youth, he was an activist for basic civil rights for people of color and demanded the right to vote, the right to work, the right to education, the right to decent housing and retirement, and so on.

Luther King, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was killed by a sniper on April 4, 1968. Martin Luther King’s legacy has been a source of inspiration for those who today continue to fight for human rights against injustice, oppression and any other form of discrimination in the world.

2. The Anti-Apartheid Struggle (South Arica)

Apartheid was a social system imposed by the South African government that consisted of racial segregation and defended the division between white and black, ignoring even the dignity of the colored race, which, among other things, was denied the right to vote and was forbidden to marry or coexist with white people.

Discriminatory treatment of non-white South Africans and racial segregation led to the emergence of the civil disobedience movement in South Africa and subsequently spread to other territories where there were areas classified on ethnic grounds. South African apartheid lasted from 1948 to 1994.

The foundations of this system of racial segregation, currently classified as a crime against humanity, rested on three laws: the separate habitat law, the population classification law, and the land law.

More than half of the South African territory was reserved for the white population. People of color were required to travel with an identity card detailing their destination; otherwise, they risked being fined or imprisoned.

Nelson Mandela was the leading activist in the non-violent struggle against apartheid and was imprisoned for almost three decades. Steve Biko, who died in prison under oppressive circumstances, was also a world icon in the fight for racial equality and the outlawing of apartheid.

Mandela, was the first president elected by universal suffrage in South Africa, which governed with democracy from 1994 to 1999, being previously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Died in 2013, today he is considered the most admired and respected politician in the world. world during the 21st century.

3. May 68 Movement (France)

Also known as French May. It was the period of mass protests, riots and unprecedented student riots that occurred in Paris during the months of May and June 1968. The protesters led by Daniel Cohn-Bendit, protested against class society, capitalism, despotism and oppression.

The May 68 movement, of student origin, was defended by wage earners, workers, members of the trade union organization and representatives of the communist party of France; giving rise to a general strike of great magnitude in the Gallic country and that later, would influence the emergence of other European social movements.

The intense and ephemeral youth protests that led to a general strike that spread to almost all sectors of the French nation, did not have as their objective the seizure of political power, but rather the transformation of the model represented by a motivated consumer society by the industrial capitalist system.

The French student revolts were joined by approximately ten million workers demanding wage demands, which caused the almost total paralysis of the French territory. Given this, the first president of that time, Charles de Gaulle, was forced to announce early general elections.

4. Woman’s Suffrage Movement (US and UK)

It was a feminist movement that initially emerged in North America in 1848 as a result of the Seneca Falls Convention and later spread to the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa, Oceania and Asia. Its purpose was the recognition of female suffrage, today considered a universal human right.

Although today, the female vote is considered evident and unquestionable, it is a historical struggle of the suffragettes that arose almost two centuries ago and that managed to expand around the planet, achieving recognition of the right to vote for women, as well as the possibility of running for popularly elected positions.

Despite the fact that, according to United Nations figures, women represent 49.5% of the world’s population, compared to 50.5% of men; women only hold a quarter of the seats in congresses on the planet. This disparity, in the opinion of feminists, is not only reflected in politics, but also in business contexts.

In the UK, the leading supporter of the protest movement in favor of women’s suffrage was Emmeline Pankhurst Goulden. For its part, in the United States the vote for women was promoted by members of the National Woman’s Party, which refers to an American political party founded in 1916 to enforce the female vote.

Social movements that changed the course of history - Emmeline Pankhurst Goulden.
Emmeline Pankhurst Goulden at the time of her arrest in front of Buckingham Palace, UK, 1914 (Wikimedia Commons).

5. Green, environmental movement (USA)

It is a social and political movement promoted by environmentalists on a global scale to deal with the effects of climate change. This movement focuses on protecting the environment to lessen the effects of global warming that were predicted by the American conservationist and biologist Rachel Carson.

With the publication of the book “Silent Spring” in 1962, Rachel Carson warned of the harmful consequences of human industrial activity, highlighting the importance of the solidarity of human beings with the ecosystem, announcing the devastating effects of the gradual increase in temperatures throughout the planet.

The climate crisis is one of the most serious problems facing humanity. The environmental social movement has had an impact from the scientific dissemination of the work of Carson, who was the most influential protector of the ecosystem against environmental impact, inspiring the emergence of this movement. 

The dangerous increase in the emission of greenhouse gases forces citizens to become aware, to achieve a society more committed to the use of environmental resources and thereby improve the global ecological reality.

In short, what the world currently needs are human beings who fight for fundamental rights and become activists for causes destined to achieve significant social changes for the sake of a better world. In the past, these people were represented by inspiring individuals, capable of leaving positive footprints on the planet, this being the best legacy for future generations.