Comparative “Social Protest” Movements- 20th century
(All once part of the British Empire)

India United States South Africa

Mohandas Gandhi:
lawyer, upper “Brahmin” class, educated in England; practiced law in South Africa
Politics: independence in 1947 Indian National Congress
(Indian Unity: ONE India – Hindu and Muslim)

Social Context: religious separatism; racial majority

Idealism: spiritual strength;
“universal brotherhood”
“The dignity of man requires obedience to a higher law-to the strength of the spirit”
“Nonviolence is the law of the human race and is infinitely greater than and superior to brute force”
“an eye for an eye makes both blind”
Satyagraha: “holding to the truth”

Law/Civil/Human Rights
rejected western/global “materialism” for “self-sufficiency” (made own clothes)
Civil disobedience:
Imprisoned for refusing to pay taxes
Marches strikes boycotts non-violent protest to “provoke”
1930 “Salt” March protests
Opposition: radical Indians
political-religious fragmentation Hindu & Muslim Separatists
seeking “two Indias” Hindu/Muslim
HUNGER STRIKE protesting Hindu-Muslim violence

No formal politician, but
“Father” of Indian Independence
“MARTYRED” assassinated 1948 by Indian Hindu extremist for being “traitor” too friendly to Muslims


Protestant CHRISTIAN minister, father and grandfather college educated; Doctorate in Theology
traveled to India in 1959

Politics Civil Rights Act ‘63 Voting Rights Act (1965)
Law/Constitution/Civil Rights
“Universal” integration vs. racial segregation
Social Context: black racial minority vs. white majority
Idealism: Spirituality, Christian “Children of God”, ethical morality, universal brotherhood

Egalitarian “I have a dream” (content of character, not race)
Non-violent resistance:
Marches (Selma 1963) strikes boycotts (Montgomery, Alabama buses – Rosa Parks)
“sit ins” at restaurant lunch counters 
mass communication (great public speaker) 
civil disobedience
jailed for social protest – “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” to critics

Opposition: radical black “Nation of Islam” (e.g. Malcolm X) initially called him “Uncle Tom”, “house negro” and/or “sell out”

Social activist influencing government; not a politician

“MARTYRED” – shot in Memphis, 1968, seeking resolution of garbage worker’s strike

Nelson Mandela:

lawyer, son of tribal leader/chief amateur boxer
Politics: African National Congress (pan-African unity); full citizenship/representation
democratic one man, one vote

APARTHEID S.A. government of strict racial segregation
Social Context: black racial majority vs. white, Afrikaaner minority ruling government
Blacks segregated on “homelands”; no intermarriage
sought universal (all races) egalitarianism

Idealism: moral power from “unjust” imprisonment;
a political prisoner for 25 years
(for a “cause”, not for “crime”)
violent and non-violent resistance:
Marches strikes boycotts civil disobedience
After 1960 Sharpeville Massacre by government, the ANC adopted terrorist tactics, such as bombing intimidation,murder and sabotage. detonated bombs in restaurants, shopping centers, cinemas and in front of government buildings

1980s economic “divestment” (a form of boycott)from S.A.
international boycott (economic and cultural) of South Africa as
“pariah” (outcaste) state

Opposition: more militant
Pan Africanist Congress Native Black Inkatha Party led by Buthelezi; “Tribal’” localized power and racial separateness

Released after 27 years age 71 “political prisoner” 1964-1990
a “politician” participating in government; worked with white President F.W. de Klerk to end apartheid
elected President 1994