Jun 6, 2011


"For centuries, national social justice movements have brought about fundamental change. The Anti-Slavery Movement in the United States led to the abolition of slavery in 1865. In the Netherlands, women fought for, and obtained, the right to vote in 1919. The campaigns of the African-American Civil Rights Movement led to the adoption of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965. South African liberation movements (ANC and PAC) overthrew apartheid in 1994. All these examples illustrate the power of citizens and their organizations when they persistently work together towards clear goals.

As Ghandi observed in 1938, ‘a small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history’ (Misra and Gupta, 2008). This short statement reveals a number of key elements for the success of social movements. A movement can be sparked off by a small body of persons when they are determined and have an unquenchable faith in the mission of their social justice movement. These elements correspond with what I experienced at the Holland Committee on Southern Africa (KZA) that, for decades, supported the struggle against apartheid. These elements also apply to how the successful global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in solidarity with Palestinians came about. A core group of dedicated persons shared the conviction that they could make a contribution to fight injustice."
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