The anti-sweatshop movement was the largest student activism movement in the United States since the South African divestment movement over ten years before. Students all around the country pressured college and university administrators to adopt strict labor codes that guaranteed that merchandise bearing the college’s logo was not made by people working under unacceptable, “sweatshop-like” conditions.
Swarthmore Afro-American Student Society fights for greater representation and support services, 1968-1969
The first attempt by an African American to enroll in Swarthmore College was 1905 when the admissions committee mistakenly admitted a light-skinned black student thinking he was white. Upon discovering his race the college withdrew its acceptance. The next attempt was not made until 1932 when a black student from Philadelphia High School applied to Swarthmore College. The admission’s committee decision was that, as a co-educational institution, Swarthmore College was not yet prepared to admit African American students.
In the spring of 1985, campaigns against apartheid in South Africa mobilized on campuses across the United States. Students at University of California Berkeley became aware of these campaigns and were moved to act. On April 10, two student groups—the UC Divestment Committee and the Campaign Against Apartheid—began organizing daily rallies at Sproul Plaza, a main gathering place on campus. Nancy Skinner led the Divestment Committee and William Nessen headed up the Campaign Against Apartheid, but the student coalition made decisions through the consensus of all members.
Brazilian Rubber Tappers campaign to protest the deforestation of the Brazilian rainforest region, 1977-1988
For centuries, those who made a living by extracting and collecting rubber from rubber trees had been virtual slaves to the powerful rubber barons who controlled the Amazon region. Attempts were made in the 1960s to unionize these workers, called “rubber tappers;” however, these attempts failed. The 1970s marked a shift in the dynamics of the extraction of resources from the Amazon. Ranchers from Southern Brazil began to buy up huge tracts of land in order to clear them for cattle grazing land.
During the second half of the 20th century, Chinese society experienced profound and tumultuous changes. Communist rule was declared in 1949, and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s resulted in much social and economic upheaval. Students were particularly hard hit by the changes made during the Cultural Revolution as university funding decreased and education quality deteriorated. Student resentment towards the Communist government was further exacerbated by the practices of nepotism and profiteering among party officials.
By the mid-1980s, the Apartheid regime had been in control of South Africa for nearly 40 years. The country was in the midst of a national crisis, had declared a state of emergency, and over 5,000 people had been killed by the violence. Despite the African Nation Congress’ requests for international aid, specifically in the form of divestment, the United States (as well as many other powerful countries) resisted.
Residents of Junin faced the first assault on their land in the early 1990s, after the Ecuadorian government signed a contract with Bishi Metals, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi. The contract allowed the mining company to prospect in and around Junin, a community in the mountainous region of northern Ecuador. Junin and its surrounding region, Intag, have exceptional biodiversity and rich water resources. Junin also happens to be rich in metals—copper in particular. The arrival of Bishi Metals raised immediate concern among Intag residents.
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.
In 1954, a young military officer, Alfredo Stroessner, organized a military coup and overthrew Paraguayan President Federico Chávez. A devoted anti-communist, Stroessner declared a state of siege and suspended constitutional freedoms for the entirety of his 35-year rule. Throughout Stroessner’s last two decades in power, indigenous people organized widely to oppose the negative effects that his massive development projects were having on their communities.
Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) forces end of World Bank funding of Sardar Sarovar dam, India, 1985-1993
After the country won its independence, India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, began calling for the construction of dams to aid in India's development. Many of these dams were proposed on the Narmada River, which flows through the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. In 1978, the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal approved the Narmada Valley Development Project, which included 30 large dams, 135 medium dams, and 3,000 small dams. The most controversial dam was the Sardar Sarovar Project in the state of Gujarat.
The Jewish and Palestinian territorial claim to the same area of land has resulted in one of the most protracted conflicts in recent history. Stemming from the Zionist demand for a Jewish homeland in the historic state of Israel, a homeland that would serve as a sanctuary for this persecuted and globally displaced people, large influxes of Jews into the former British mandate of Palestine have and continue to displace millions of Palestinian residents.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the political atmosphere in Kenya was characterized by brutal government repression and terror. Under the single-party rule of President Daniel arap Moi, any form of political dissension was swiftly met with government interrogation, detention, and torture. Many students, journalists, lawyers, and human rights advocates were among those imprisoned for perceived anti-government statements, ideas, and actions.
In 1921 the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) came to power and soon aligned the country with the USSR. Until this democracy campaign in 1989, the MPRP ruled Mongolia through a constitutionally-sanctioned single-party government. By the mid-1980’s, pro-reform sentiments and movements were spreading in Eastern Europe, especially at the universities. However, Mongolians remained isolated from all of this except for the few students who could afford to study abroad in Eastern Europe.
New York City is home to hundreds of community gardens spread throughout the city. Over the past 20 years, these gardens have served as green spaces in which community members can come together and share ideas, children can get to know the process of growing food and become familiar with the earth. However, in 1998, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani began allowing the demolition of community gardens around the city in favor of luxury apartment development.
The Pearl Continental is a luxury hotel in Karachi, Pakistan, “located in the heart of the business hub and 15 km from the airport, [it] is a preferred choice for discerning corporate and leisure travelers,” according to their website. In September 2001, Pearl Continental management abruptly fired 300 workers due to a 'decline in bookings,' initiating a many year struggle between management and the Pearl Continental Karachi union.
In the southern Polish city of Kielce, in the late 2000s, a public bus company, MPK (Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne), employed around 630 people and ran 160 buses regularly in the city. For several years, the company had been struggling to survive. It had been put under a traffic planning authority, ZTM, which controlled business operations and pushed it into debt. Working conditions were also unfavorable: wages were low, bus schedules didn't allow drivers regular breaks, and it became difficult for the company to hire new employees.
“This is how every worker feels it: with varying degrees of clarity they feel themselves living at a moment that could be decisive for their class, a moment in which all can be staked, everything risked, and perhaps everything lost.
Colorado disability rights activists (ADAPT) prevent budget cuts to Medicaid Home-Health Services, 2002
On July 5-18, 2002, between 11 and 22 members of Colorado ADAPT (Americans for Attendant Policies Today) held a constant vigil outside of the state Human Services Building in Denver in order to protest the state Health Care Policy Finance (HCPF) committee making any cuts, caps, or changes to the community long-term care policy in Colorado Medicaid. Their goal was to put pressure on HCPF in order to enforce the promises that HCPF had previously made to ADAPT about not cutting Medicaid funds and services.
“If the government won’t stop the war, we’ll stop the government.”
That was the central slogan of the Mayday campaign.
The Anti-Vietnam War movement included striking examples of nonviolent direct action. Many of the protests against the Vietnam War took place in the mid-1960s, when the war was still in its early stages, but demonstrations grew in numbers toward the end of the decade. One of the more dramatic efforts to end the war took place in 1971, when the war was rapidly losing public support among American citizens.
The Bologna Process, a European agreement signed by Germany in 1999, made degree programs comparable throughout Europe. In Germany this meant that programs originally designed to last five or six years were compressed into three or four, creating a degree program quite similar to the United States’. This substantially increased the course load for students. Decreased funding for universities also meant a poorer standard of education, larger classes, and the implementation of tuition fees. Between February and December 2009, thousands of German students protested thes
Since 1996, a small number of State University of New York (SUNY) students had been urging the university administration to reject contracts with companies that had unfair labor policies. However, by 1999, students had made very little progress and campus stores still sold questionable sweatshop products.
In the winter of 2004, the Charest Government of Quebec cut $103 million in grants for low-income students at Quebec universities and CEGEP (junior colleges). The Quebec people disliked the Charest government to begin with, and in early December, students threatened to go on strike.
Since the late 1960’s, companies have been cutting down trees in the virgin forests of Malaysia, most notably in the state of Sarawak. Environmentalists all over the world were concerned about the effects of deforestation on the native Penan people and the effects of logging on the rich biodiversity of the rainforests. In particular, environmentalists in neighboring Australia wished to raise awareness about the issue and provide aid to the Penan people. These environmentalists formed the Rainforest Action Groups (RAG), one in each of three Australian cities, Sydney, Melbou
On the western coast of Vancouver Island, fir, cedar and spruce trees fill the rainforest of Clayoquot Sound, one of the last, large, untouched forests in British Columbia (B.C.). In April of 1993, Michael Harcourt, the province's premier, announced that logging companies, mainly MacMillan Bloedel, had the permission to clear-cut, a logging process of cutting down trees, sixty two percent of Clayoquot land. Harcourt argued that his decision exemplified how industry and environment could work together.
In December 1936, autoworkers at General Motors' (GM) plants across Michigan staged multiple sit-down strikes, the longest of which lasted 44 days. The workers originally demanded that GM recognize their union, the United Autoworkers of America (UAW) as the sole bargaining agent for all GM employees. The autoworkers also demanded that GM end all discriminatory practices against its workers and relax efforts to speed up production.