The enclosure system involved fencing off plots of arable land. The land would then be deeded to an individual or group of owners who could use it as they saw fit. Despite slowly losing access to the commons, commoners preserved their access to rights of ways (the right to pass through someone else’s or public property on a specific path), even those now enclosed on private land, through the countryside. Foot paths, roads, carriageways, and trails were considered highways to which all individuals had the right of way.
On 8 December 1965, the British government passed the Race Relations Act, the first legislation to address racism and xenophobia in the United Kingdom. The act addressed significant disparities in the UK, like the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott, which demonstrated against income and work inequalities faced by West Indian and African communities. The act made it a civil offense to incite racial violence and for businesses to not serve people based on race.
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.
In Ethiopia, nine ethnic groups each inhabit their own land. The Oromo people are one of the largest groups and inhabit Oromia which is located on the border between South Sudan and Kenya and spreads into the center of Ethiopia. Populations of the Oromo people also live within the borders of South Sudan and Kenya, but the population is most concentrated within Ethiopia. The Oromo people of Ethiopia began conducting small scale street protests including marches and pickets in April, 2014 in response to their persecution and marginalization by the Ethiopian government.
The city of Rio de Janeiro is home to 6 million people with approximately 1.5 million residents living in favelas. These residential communities, named after the favela trees native to the region, are commonly misunderstood by outsiders. Although 32% of favela residents belong to the lower-class, a 2013 study found that 85% of people residing in favelas like where they live. Some favelas have high crime rates, but many are high-functioning, self-governing communities.
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 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.
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.
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”
Black South Africans suffering under restrictive racially-based laws relied heavily on public transportation to commute to their jobs in the urban center of Johannesburg. One community, Alexandra Township of Johannesburg, experienced a fare hike from five cents to six cents in 1943, which put financial strain on local individuals and families, for whom transportation constituted a major household expense.
Mary Ann Good planted the tree that came
to be known as the Wolseley Elm, along with many others, on her family farm in
1860, before Wolseley Avenue existed. Mary’s elms began to be removed as the city
of Winnipeg expanded, until the Wolseley Elm was the only elm remaining that did
not stand on the side of the road. The city of Winnipeg made its first attempt
to remove the tree to make way for Wolseley Avenue sometime between 1907 and
1909. The City paved Wolseley Avenue with asphalt in 1925 and the Elm came
21 March 2013 Chicago Public School officials announced a plan to close 54 schools with the goals of reconciling a $1 billion dollar deficit, making better use of resources, and improving education. District CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that the plan addressed the underutilized and under-resourced schools in order to raise the quality of education in the remaining schools. The plan was expected to affect 30,000 students in the Chicago Metropolitan area and cost 300 teachers their jobs.
Wukan is a coastal Chinese fishing village with a population of approximately 13,000. Located in the southeastern province of Guangdong, Wukan rose to international prominence in 2011 when villagers began protesting against corruption at the city level and unfair compensation for land seizure. Villagers claim that, since 1998, more than 400 hectares of land had been seized without compensation and that corrupt Lufeng city officials have skimmed more than 110 million U.S. dollars from commercial land sale.
Teresa Sullivan took the position of President of the University of Virginia prior to the 2010-2011 school year. The Rector of the Board of Visitors (BOV), Helen Dragas, began in October 2011 to carry out a plan to remove Sullivan from office.
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.
Brazil is the largest country in South America with resources comparable to the continental United States as well as vast amounts of land for agricultural development. At the time of this campaign, two-thirds of the population went hungry and were without work. 48% of the arable land was controlled by 1% of the population for large-scale agricultural enterprises. In 1964, there was a military coup that resulted in a twenty-one year military dictatorship and small farmers were pushed off their land, which was taken by the government.
In 1975 and 1976, New York City instituted deep budget cuts that angered the local people and led to many sit-ins and occupations around the city. In the spring of 1975, fears from the recession and government budgets made the banks refuse to market city bonds. Under the urging of the state and national governments to regain access to the bond market, Mayor Abraham D. Bearne proposed austerity budgets that would cut spending on schools, libraries, firehouses, and would charge tuition for the City University of New York for the first time.
With a population of 1.3 million people, the Mapuche are currently the largest indigenous group in Chile. Before 1881, the group functioned as an independent nation, but their political and territorial sovereignty was revoked after Chileans declared their independence from Spain. Since then, the government has forced the Mapuche to live on small “reducciones” (reserves) and allowed private lumber firms to expropriate their land.
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.
In 1955, just one year after the Supreme Court issued its pivotal Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the country was again shaken by the Montgomery Bus Boycotts (see “African Americans boycott buses for integration in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S., 1955-1956”). The campaign, which targeted the city’s practice of segregation on public transportation, brought leaders such as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., into the national spotlight.
Prison camps were set up in Russia by the Bolsheviks soon after the October 1917 revolution and the scale of imprisonment expanded enormously beginning in the late 1920s, with most prisoners forced to labor, especially in mining, logging, and construction. From the 1930s through the mid 1950s, camps around the country contained millions of prisoners (from common criminals to political prisoners such as dissidents and opponents of the regime) working in inhumane conditions. Many died due to overwork, extreme climate, disease and malnutrition.
From 1916 to 1921, villagers in Kumaon in northern India set hundreds of forest fires to protest the colonial British state’s increasing regulations of the natural environment.