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Making a Movement

Coalition Building, Capitalism, and How History Can Inform The Activism of Today

Among the many issues thrust to the forefront of U.S. national consciousness in 2020 has been state use of violence, particularly police murders of Black Americans. As a result, there have been myriad calls for all types of police and criminal justice reforms, as well as calls for larger systemic change. But how do we get there? Drs. Christian Davenport, Derrick Darby, and Sarah Soule discuss what scholarship, research, and history can tell us about building a social movement. Their conversation touches topics of state violence and coercion, the Black Lives Matter Movement, coalition-building, and what today’s young people can learn from past organizations and movements for social change.


Dr. Christian Davenport, Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan as well as a Faculty Associate at the Center for Political Studies and Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)

Dr. Derrick Darby, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan

Dr. Sarah Soule, The Morgridge Professor of Organizational Behavior and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Stanford University

Resources mentioned in this video:

The Black Youth Project

The Kerner Commission Report of 1968

Protesting While Black: The Differential Policing of American Activism, 1960 to 1990


4:44 - Do we know what a movement is?

13:00 - Translating knowledge and energy into action and change

18:30 - History can and should inform today's activism

25:45 - Connecting calls for reform and defunding police to broader issues: self-determination, nationhood, and capitalism

27:44 - Building a movement

    27:44 - Returning to organizational structure

    31:00 - The relevance of identity and heterogeneity in a movement

    34:00 - The root of the problem - economic inequality

    36:30 - Building coalitions

    38:00 - Fragmentation and the challenges brought by severe wealth inequality

49:00 - Protests and policing