Cambridge, a small city in Eastern Shore Maryland, was racially divided in 1960 between African Americans and European Americans. Unemployment rates for African Americans were quadruple those of white people and segregation was pervasive in public and private spaces alike.
At its height, the Quebec General Strike in the spring of 1972 was the largest strike in North America’s history. The strike, which involved over 250,000 public and private service workers, was a very important moment in Quebecers’ self-determination and struggle for rights. Planning of the strike had been in motion since 1970, when Quebec’s three main union federations held joint meetings to discuss ways in which they could work together to address common struggles. At the time, many of Quebec’s working class felt disenchanted with and ignored by the government.
To South Africans and Australians alike, rugby is not just a sport, but a cultural symbol. In the 1960s and early 1970s, it was also a unifying force between apartheid South Africa and its “white neighbor by the sea”—Australia. At the time, Australia had in place many racist policies that discriminated against Aboriginal peoples and the Australian public was only beginning to gain an awareness of both the domestic and international issues of human rights at stake.
The May revolt started as a student protest over the closing of the University of Paris’ Nanterre campus. The campus closed after months of escalation of student protests. These protests initially stemmed from a fight for sexual liberation (or the right to have visitors of the opposite sex in dorms) that later radicalized to become a fight for more student influence in the education system, and finally for a complete change of economic and social structure.
The Pashtuns are a Muslim group that occupied the North-West Frontier of British India, the area near present day Afghanistan. This area was occupied by the British in 1848 and divided into two areas. In one area, districts were established and made under British control. The other area was a tribal area where the people lived semi-independent lives without much influence from the British. In 1902, both the settled districts and the tribal region were consolidated into the “North-West Frontier Province” by the British Empire.
By the beginning of the 1960s the Civil Rights Movement had taken hold of the United States, where black Americans had been treated unjustly since they first arrived in the nation. During the Civil Rights Movement, black communities all throughout the US South rose up in protest against the segregationist policies that kept them in systematically separate and insufficient living arrangements, a world away from the “separate but equal” treatment promised them by the 14 amendment and its interpretation in the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson.
Throughout the 90s, Bolivia came under increasing pressure from the World Bank to privatize public goods in order to fulfill loan conditionality. In September 1999, in response to this pressure, the Bolivian government auctioned off the municipal water system ‘SEMAPA’ of Cochabamba, a city of 800,000 residents. When the auction drew only one bidder, the government signed water resources over in a 40-year concession to Aguas del Tunari, a foreign-led consortium of private investors dominated by the Bechtel Corporation.
The Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign was developed by the African National Congress (ANC) to combat apartheid. More specifically, the campaign used large-scale national noncooperation to target laws enacted by the South African government that the ANC deemed unjust. The campaign began on June 26, 1952, as groups throughout South Africa executed various acts of defiance in main cities. The ANC and the South African Indian Congress (SAIC) united Africans and Indians alike to take on apartheid.
In 1940, at the brink of World War II, Denmark found itself declaring neutrality and cutting its troops in half. Despite this, the German war machine was not to be stopped. The German army invaded Denmark offering an ultimatum demanding submission. To minimize Danish casualties at the hand of a superior German army, the Danish King Christian submitted. Although it was occupied by German troops, Denmark had not surrendered and remained a sovereign state.
Norway was invaded by the Nazis on April 9, 1940. Within two months, the Nazis had crushed Norwegian military resistance and installed a puppet government. Norwegians responded to the occupation of their country both nonviolently and violently. Because of the unprovoked aggression that the Nazis unleashed upon them, many Norwegians felt that all forms of resistance were fully legitimate. However, most saw nonviolent resistance as the only practical option, given the massive military advantage of the occupying military forces.
Following the collapse of French colonial administration in Vietnam in 1954, the country was temporarily divided, with Ho Chi Minh's Democratic Republic of Vietnam in North Vietnam, and Emperor Bao Dai's State of Vietnam in the South. The Geneva Conference peace agreement ending the French Indo-China war included a provision for nationwide elections in 1956. Soon after the country was divided, Ngo Dinh Diem had proclaimed himself president of South Vietnam by means of a fraudulent election.
In El Salvador in 1998, the Inter-American Development Bank, a branch of the World Bank, approved a loan for a reform program directed at the nation’s water sector. The loan focused on a program based on decentralization and privatization of El Salvador’s water systems. 36 million dollars of the loan was designated specifically for the promotion of private sector participation in the decentralization program.
In 1947, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) conducted a “Journey of Reconciliation” to direct attention toward racial segregation in public transportation in the Southern U.S.A. Although this initial freedom ride campaign was not regarded as a great success during its time, it inspired the 1961 Freedom Rides that fueled the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) formed the Local 399 shortly after World War II. The Local 399 was a labor union for janitors which had reached its peak in the 1970s, but was struggling in the 1980s. During this time, the Local 399 fought for higher wages for its members, which motivated cleaning contractors to invest in nonunion options. The cleaning industry was extremely competitive at the time and as a result of this emphasis on nonunion cleaners, membership in the Local 399 had fallen from approximately 5,000 members to only 1,800.
The general strike in Ådalen, Sweden, in 1931 was part of a much larger industrial struggle between the Swedish Employers’ Federation (SAF) and the Swedish Union Federation (LO), a struggle that had been continuing since the late 19th century, if not longer.
In the late nineteenth century, the Argentinian working class had gained greater self-identification during the economic crisis of 1898–1904, when labor strikes – an unknown phenomenon up to then – unleashed the rapid expansion of labor organizing and labor unions, and the national FORA (Regional Argentinian Workers' Federation) was created. In the first decade of the 20th century, union actions were met with extreme repression by the state, which proved incapable of responding through conciliation, leading to general strikes in 1902, 1904, and 1906.
The Baltic republics of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania achieved their independence from the Soviet Union by conducting movements based on nonviolence. Tactics included: nonviolent protests, noncooperation, and defiance to combat Soviet military intervention and political intrusion. The problems for Latvia in particular were born after the Soviet occupation following World War II. From that point forward the Soviet leaders employed a program to eradicate the previous Latvian society and to force the “Sovietization” of Latvian society.
The San Francisco general strike grew out of a coast-wide maritime strike in which ports up and down the west coast of the United States were closed by striking workers. While there were complaints about wages and working conditions, the strikers (headed by the International Longshoremen’s Association) were committed to workplace democracy, calling for worker control of unions and hiring and a coast-wide industrial organization inclusive of unskilled workers, skilled workers, and workers of all races and nationalities.
Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, Turkey has technically been a secular democracy. Despite this, it has experienced numerous coups and the government has at times proven itself to be highly corrupt.
From late June to early September 1989, nearly 2,000 Turkish prisoners underwent a hunger strike. They protested against an August 1988 decree that instituted very harsh measures within the prison system. The Turkish government imposed the decree after 47 prisoners had escaped. Additionally, in June 1989, prison officials found two unfinished escape tunnels and, as a result, imposed even harsher measures.
The mass demonstrations of 1963 in Durham were the culmination of a local black freedom movement that had slowly gained momentum over the preceding years. Durham had been the site of a thwarted sit-in at the Royal Ice Cream Parlor in 1957, limited desegregation of schools, and the long-standing lunch-counter sit-ins in 1960 (see “Durham students sit-in for U.S. Civil Rights, 1960”). Throughout the next few years, civil rights activists continued to attack segregation in theaters, schools, motels, and restaurants as well as demand increased employment opportunities for blacks.
By November 1929, Igbo women in southeastern Nigeria had had enough. From the perspective of the British colonizers, the women became loud, angry, and disruptive. They marched through cities and towns and demanded political leaders to step down. The women took their British rulers completely by surprise. The British were ignorant of the discontent among women that had been building for years, and that had recently bubbled over the surface. They mistook the women’s organized action for spontaneous, ‘crazy’ outbursts.
The students of Virginia Union University, a black university, wanted to do something to contribute to the growing sit-in movement that had begun on February 1, 1960, in Greensboro, North Carolina (see “Greensboro, NC, students sit-in for U.S. Civil Rights, 1960”). Led by students Frank Pinkston and Charles Sherrod, who had been counseled on nonviolent protest methods by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., more than 200 Virginia Union students and faculty marched from their campus to Richmond’s downtown shopping district on February 20, 1960.
When the San Francisco Bay based Lucky Sewing Co. filed for bankruptcy in May of 1992, they laid off twelve Chinese immigrant women whom they owed $15,000 in back wages. The company’s attorney claimed that they had few assets and there was no money to pay the seamstresses. Lucky Sewing Co. and other garment contractors imposed terrible conditions on workers who were often paid less than the $4.25 minimum wage.
In 1988 Burmese students led mass demonstrations against the oppressive military junta of Burma (the country now referred to as Myanmar). The result was 3,000 civilians dead after a governmental crackdown and a prevailing junta. Shortly after, as the “rallying symbol for the population,” pro-democracy leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi was confined to her house by the junta, not to be seen by the public for 12 out of the next 18 years.