The end of the year is an apt time for reflection, critique, and forward thinking. And as 2015 closes its door, here is a look back at the top social justice stories of the year.
1. Black Lives Matter
First emerging as a hashtag and organization in 2012, the Black Lives Matter movement took 2015 by storm with protests, demonstrations, and unwavering commitment towards justice on issues of police brutality, mass incarceration, and systemic racism. And though 2015 did not see substantive change on matters of police accountability, the Black Lives Matter movement grew in strength, power, and resolve.
2. The Trans Rights Movement
After Caitlyn Jenner came out as a trans woman in a highly-watched interview with Diane Sawyer, gender identity and trans rights became a mainstream topic of conversation. As a result, Jenner became a celebrity and trans issues began to receive more attention and media coverage than ever before. Though just as Jenner has become arguably the most high-profile trans person, her celebrity has not been free from criticism. Many individuals in the trans community, trans women of color in particular, have critiqued Jenner over her lack of awareness on the intersections between race, class, and gender and the ways in which Jenner's wealth and whiteness do not make her experience representative.
Beyond Jenner, the trans right movement continues to grow, as 2015 saw the continued rise of trans celebrities like Laverne Cox, the hit television show Transparent, and the appointment of the first trans White House staffer. 2015 also saw the highest number of trans women killed in any year on record, proving that the work is not finished.
3. Fight for 15
Fight for 15 is a grassroots, worker led movement to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. Originating from the fast-food industry, the Fight for 15 movement saw widespread and significant "wins" in 2015. New York City, Seattle, and Los Angeles all passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15.00. Across the nation, workers and allies in 500 cities went on strike to raise awareness to the plight of those living on minimum wage. With momentum growing, 2016 looks to see more advances for the rights and wages of workers.
4. Same-Sex Marriage
In a year seemingly characterized by hate-fueled tragedy, the Supreme Court's decision for marriage equality was a highlight. After decades of work by activists, the Supreme Court declared that per the U.S. Constitution same-sex couples have the right to wed. Immediately after the decision, he hashtag #LoveWins emerged, and dominated every social media platform for the following week.
5. The Confederate Flag Comes Down in South Carolina
Following the racially motivated massacre at Emmanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, the public display of the Confederate Flag and its symbolism came under debate. In response, activist Bree Newsome ascended the flag pole in front of the South Carolina State Capitol and removed the Confederate Flag that had flown there since the 1960s. Weeks later, the flag was officially taken down as Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill to permanently remove the flag from state grounds.
6. Student Activism
From football players at the University of Missouri going on strike, to a coalition of students at the University of California schools fighting for divestment from private prisons, 2015 saw a heightened level of student activism. Students like Jonathan Butler, who led a hunger-strike at the University of Missouri in protest of lack of action towards racism on campus, captivated the attention of the country and inspired many to join the fight for justice.
What are your social justice related resolutions for 2016? What do you hope will happen in the coming year? Let us know in the comments!
Welcome to the conversation!
Welcome to the conversation!
Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.
The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.
The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate
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