by Henia Belalia, Cross Posted from Peaceful Uprising
How do activists use social movement history? What lessons can be learned from past movements for social change in our fight to stop climate change? We often rely on lessons and tactics from the U.S. Civil Rights movement. We think this might be the best source for our lessons from the past.
How about the Abolition of the Slave Trade? As an activist, I fight for climate justice. As an historian and a scholar of law and history, I study slavery and the slave trade.
The movement for civil rights—certainly the mainstream movement—was based on the perceived need to have equal rights in an existing system. The right to vote, the right to fair housing. An end to segregation. Integration into the existing status quo at every level. And none of these things are bad things. Having equal rights is better than not having equal rights. But even the more radical wing of the civil rights movement questioned this strategy. S.N.C.C. members often asked, “Do we really want to die for the right to vote?”
The movement for climate justice is different. We are demanding “system change, not climate change.”