Protests come in the form of marches, boycotts, and wardrobe choices. All effective protests share one thing in common: a mass of people with a collective goal and a strong platform.
The iconic Women’s March or the Black Lives Matter movement would not garner as much power in the media or political conversations without thousands of activists uniting under one message. These people came from diverse demographic backgrounds and ranging platforms. The world inevitably started to listen to this vast spectrum of voices.
The recent #MeToo and Time’s Up movements show excellent examples of effective protests in the past year. Women banded together with a specific goal in mind—holding men in positions of power accountable for sexual harassment. Tarana Burke, a woman who started a nonprofit in 2007 for victims of sexual assault, coined the phrase “me too.” But the movement didn’t gain major traction until Alyssa Milano tweeted the hashtag encouraging victims to post in solidarity with one another. The five-letter phrase began flooding social media feeds around the world and reverberated into a groundbreaking movement that put countless men accused of sexual harassment out of jobs and out of power. These movements led TIME to choose “The Silence Breakers” as their Person of the Year, and the “MeToo” hashtag was shared millions of times in over 85 countries.
With an issue as monumental as sexual assault, the movement needed a voice with a large platform to inform and empower supporters to take action. Milano’s Twitter account was prominent enough to launch a worldwide movement combating sexual assault, where individuals were able to collectively share their impactful stories.
Local levels of social movements greatly rely on synergy as well. Last semester, over 200 Emerson students left class and marched into a faculty meeting to protest racism on campus. Making noise with chants and holding posters, their voices were heard—not only by faculty, who have held meetings to discuss satisfying the demands of the students—but also by the city around them, earning them a headline in The Boston Globe.
It’s the responsibility of passionate individuals to inform the public about important social issues and pressure those in power to take action. Then, a dominant platform is created, the uninformed start to listen, and change becomes possible.