On 19 September 1990, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the city of Atlanta the contract to host the 1996 Summer Olympics. The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) believed that by hosting the Olympics, Atlanta would be able to reinvent itself as an international city, and investment in the Games would help fuel urban development. The Committee leaned on the city of Atlanta’s strong civil rights history to secure the bid.
The 1960’s saw a surge in activism on college campuses in the United States. One of the fights occurring on college campuses was demands for ethnic studies programs and the admission of more students of color. Brooklyn College students joined this fight in 1969.
In 2016, Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts was one of the most elite universities in the United States. It had the largest endowment of any university in the country at $35.7 billion. However, despite the wealth of the university, its treatment of its employees, specifically dining services employees, came into question in 2016. Starting in early June 2016, the dining services workers of Harvard began a series of negotiations with the university in order to demand a higher yearly salary.
On 18 March 1970, a group of feminists staged a sit-in at the offices of the Ladies’ Home Journal (LHJ) to protest how the magazine’s mostly male editorial board depicted women. At the time, LHJ was the second largest women’s magazine in the United States. The sit-in involved women from groups such as Media Women, New York Radical Feminists, National Organization of Women (NOW), the Redstockings, and Barnard College students.
On 1 June 1966, growing disputes between farmworkers and the owners of
melon farms in the Rio Grande valley in South Texas culminated in a
strike. Four hundred farm workers had voted in favor of a strike against
their employers at La Casita melon farm. It was the height of melon
season. Eugene Nelson, who had worked as a farm worker and author as
well as an organizer with the National Farm Workers’ Association, led
these workers to strike and organized them into the Independent Workers’
Association. Their organization, based in Rio Grande City in Starr
After 8 years of negotiation and organizing, the New York University (NYU) Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC) won voluntary recognition from NYU on 26 November 2013, partially in response to a letter signed by 1300 graduate student employees in support of unionization. The NYU administration withheld formal recognition until after 98.4 percent of graduate students voted in favor of the union on 11 December. This made NYU the first private university in the United States to recognize a graduate student union.
Sarasotan Students' school boycott stops neighborhood schools from closing, Florida, United States, 1969
Before Booker Grammar School, Sarasota’s first Black public school, was established in 1925, Black students received their education at home or in churches. The establishment of three other schools for Black students -- Amaryllis Park for first through third graders, Booker Junior High, for seventh and eighth graders, and Booker High School, for ninth through twelfth graders -- followed. These schools, located centrally within Sarasota’s African-American community, Newtown, became deeply rooted institutions within the community.
In 1959, Columbia University announced plans for a new gymnasium for Columbia College students and residents of the Harlem community. The gym would be segregated, with residents of the Harlem community having to enter through the basement entrance, and having limited access to the facilities. The gym was also not open for use by students from Columbia’s graduate and professional schools, Barnard College, or Teacher’s College.
In March 1960, a national wave of sit-in campaigns to desegregate lunch counters and public accommodations reached Miami. Miami was one of 11 Florida cities where activists organized sit-ins over the months of February and March 1960. On 4 March 1960, students from Florida Memorial College led a sit-in in in Miami, Florida. Participants included adult ministers.
During the Civil Rights Movement, Mexican-Americans struggled for equal
rights all across the Southwest in America. In Texas, campaigns for
racial equality were led primarily by organizations like La Raza (the
Resistance), MAYO (Mexican-American Youth Organization), PASSO
(Political Association of Spanish-Speaking Organizations), and the Brown
Berets. These organizations struggled for equal rights and privileges
for Mexican-Americans in all facets of society.
On 20 December 2005, in the midst of the cold and busy holiday season, nearly 40,000 subway and bus operators from New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) went on strike, protesting the contract they found to have unfair economic terms. The strike, the first NYC transit strike in 25 years, completely shutdown the public transportation system, which nearly 8 million people, including 600,000 students relied on for their commutes.
Philadelphians prevent deportation of Honduran immigrant through church sanctuary, United States, 2014-15
The New Sanctuary Movement (NSM) was established to build a community
that does not discriminate based on faith, ethnicity, class, and to end
injustices against immigrants regardless of their legal or illegal
status. They are a national movement of civil disobedience trying to
pressure President Obama to reform immigration laws. Their movement
goals include pushing Obama to end all deportations, regardless of
“origin, status, criminal convictions, sexual or gender identity,
socioeconomic status, marital status, or previous deportation order”
As the nationwide struggle for civil rights in the United States, led by
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, continued into 1964, tension between civil
rights activists and the city government was rising in St. Augustine,
Florida. Public institutions remained segregated, and Klu Klux Klan
violence against African Americans increased, despite activists’
protests and pleas to the government.
The Dream Defenders' occupation to end racial profiling and repeal Stand Your Ground laws in Florida, 2013
On 14 July 2013, a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who Zimmerman had shot in early 2012. The jury cited Florida’s Stand Your Ground law in their acquittal, which permitted civilian use of potentially lethal force in self-defense. Two hours after this acquittal, the Dream Defenders, a youth-led racial justice organization in Florida, marched with 300 students and residents to the Florida State Capitol to protest the verdict.
On 4 April 2004, Casey Sheehan, an American soldier, was killed in the Iraq War. Upon hearing the news, his mother Cindy Sheehan was completely devastated and questioned the value of the war.
The Great Hawai'i' Sugar Strike was launched against the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association and the “Big Five” companies in 1946. The “Big Five” were made up of a handful of corporate elite companies: Alexander & Baldwin, American Factors, Castle & Cooke, C. Brewer, and Theo. Davies. They exercised complete control over Hawai'i's sugar plantation workers and the majority of the island’s multi-ethnic workforces.
Political dissident Young Sam Kim stages hunger strike to solidify the dissidents in pro-democracy movement, 1983
Doo Hwan Chun filled the power void in South Korea through his military coup right after the assassination of the former President Jung Hee Park in 1979. He became the president after amending the Constitutional Law that turned the presidential election into an indirect election—one that he could easily manipulate.
In Crystal City, Texas, 87 percent of high school students in 1968 were Chicano, or Mexican American, and nearly half of these were children of migrant farm workers. But the high school principal, five of the seven school board members, and 75 percent of the teachers were white. During the summers, local government and school officials, all white, selected candidates for the fall elections. In doing so, the minority population maintained a majority white school board with just one or two Chicanos they believed to align with their views.
Before the U.S. civil war (1861-65), women struggling for their rights worked also for the end of slavery. The annual women’s rights convention of 1857 failed to meet because Susan B Anthony had spent her time that year lecturing against slavery. In 1863 women leaders Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone plunged into agitation for the anti-slavery 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution; it was passed in 1865.
In 2001, Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois and Rep. Howard Berman of California introduced a piece of proposed legislation named The DREAM, (acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act. Under the proposed Dream Act undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally under parental supervision, would have an opportunity to obtain conditional U.S. citizenship with the possibility of achieving full citizenship upon completion of the process and by finally completing either two years of college or two years in the military.
After fighting in World War One, American soldiers returned home to find that they had missed out on the chance to earn a significant amount of money while away. The average soldier was paid much less than the average factory worker during the First World War, and in an effort to win back some level of equity, WWI veterans lobbied Congress to compensate them for the wages they had lost out on while serving the country in combat. They carefully used the phrase "adjusted compensation" (instead of "bonus", a term used by their opponents) to describe the money they argued they were owed.
On 10 April 1606, King James I of England approved a royal charter establishing the Virginia Company of London. The aim of the company was to found North American colonial settlements with the purpose of providing a profit for its English investors. The next year, an expedition funded by the company established Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America.
African American auto workers strike for union democracy and better working conditions (DRUM), 1968-1970
Detroit, Michigan had long served as a world center for auto manufacturing. A number of U.S. automobile manufacturers centered their operations in the city, including Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. For decades, as well, the city was a center of racial conflict in the country. Following World War II, a number of white soldiers had returned to Detroit to find their manufacturing jobs “taken” by women and, more so, African American men. A number of Black workers were forced out of their jobs, though many remained.
Swarthmore College, a small liberal arts college just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had long been respected as an institution with a strong commitment to social justice. While the College had pioneered such practices as co-education and comprehensive financial aid, by 2000 many College staff—including those in the environmental and dining services departments—were paid just above poverty levels for Delaware County, where the College and the majority of its workers reside. In the fall of 2000, a group of students began to talk with staff about the College’s employment practices.
Editor's Note: We recognize that the inclusion of this case in a database of nonviolent action may be controversial because of the campaigner violence at certain points during the campaign. However, we have concluded that the campaigner violence was minimal under the circumstances. We also believe that the inclusion of this largely nonviolent campaign will offer strategic lessons on the use of nonviolence in similar struggles. Many prisoners campaigns in this database have been focused around the method of the hunger strike.