A Brief History of Student-Led Protests


Throughout history, student-led protests have had the ability to bring a new level of recognition to social issues. The first documented protest took place during the mid-eighteenth century at Harvard University, when a number of students brought attention to the quality of the food they were being served. It was one of the first of its kind, and the protest was a success due to the determination of the students involved and their strong belief that they were deserving of better meals.

Less than two centuries later, student protests erupted in North Carolina after four African American teenagers from the Agricultural and Technical State University sat down at a lunch counter and refused to leave in an attempt to stop segregation. After only three days, the four were joined by three-hundred other students, and after a few months, this method of protest had spread to more than fifty cities.

Soon after the protests began in North Carolina, a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was created, which served as a major source of organization for the students. This committee would later help to promote the Freedom Riders, voter registration in Southern States, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which banned public segregation.

The four students who initiated these protests were not only catalysts for change, but leaders in a fight for equality. What stood out about this revolution was that the students’ protests were both consistent and nonviolent. They knew that their actions could have repercussions, but their beliefs were stronger than their fears. Much like the students who protest today, those individuals had a goal in sight that they were unwilling to relinquish.

Today, students nationwide are protesting in favor of gun control laws and in solidarity with survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They are refusing to allow this tragedy to be minimized and are strongly encouraging politicians to pass gun control laws with the intention to restrict the sale of semi-automatic firearms, such as the one used in the shooting.

Although their protest has been met with resistance, the students have gained a number of supporters throughout the nation, some of which are gun owners. These students are capable of creating great change and they have already taken the first step by bringing awareness and keeping the nation focused on the issue of gun control.