Civil Disobedience PDF Handout
Most of the examples of Civil Disobedience that we hold up are ancient history to many of our students. They “get” Gandhi’s Salt March and Rosa Parks refusing to sit in the back of the bus but have trouble relating it to contemporary issues. This .pdf handout is a list of 17 recent examples of civil disobedience that we’ve used as a discussion starter. They are meant to be provocative. I struggle, for example, with including pharmacists refusing to fill morning-after pill prescriptions because it infringes on the rights of the women presenting their prescriptions, but it generates interesting discussions.
We would use this list after having read and discussed Thoreau’s essay, defining civil disobedience (“Civil disobedience is a public, non-violent and conscientious breach of law undertaken with the aim of bringing about a change in laws or government policies”) and perhaps engaging in a few other activities, such as watching the civil disobedience debate scene from “The Great Debaters” and acting out a short scene from “The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail.” By this point in the Class of Nonviolence we will also have studied Gandhi (and have shown the Salt March and Dhrasana Salt Works scenes from the film “Gandhi”) and shown the Nashville lunch counter episode from “A Force More Powerful” as part of our exploration of Martin Luther King, Jr.