Houston Matters

How Much Change Does Protesting Usually Accomplish?

From massive marches on Washington, to protests like the one that turned violent in Charlottesville, Va., to more subtle acts — like kneeling during the national anthem — how effective is protesting?

City Hall Rally
Houston activists descended on City Hall to denounce the violence in Charlottesville, Va. at a rally on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017.

Protesting seems to happen a lot in this day and age, sometimes under unfortunate circumstances as we saw in Charlottesville, Va. in August, and sometimes in quieter ways like NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem.

So, whether it’s a protest where things get violent and people get arrested, or where divisive political rhetoric pushes people to boycott a massive media franchise — is it worth it? How much change does protesting implement in a society, and what have we gleaned from famous protests in the past?

We talk it over with Leandra Zarnow, assistant professor of history at the University of Houston.

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