History of Social Movements in the United States


The history of the United States provides rich examples for social movements and movement building. Below are some resources that you might find useful for a historical outline of modern social movements in the US.

Interactive timeline of US social movements, from SAALT

The Labor Movement
See also: NPR’s history of the labor movement
Important groups:
o     United Auto Workers
o Industrial Workers of the World

The Women’s Movement
See also History.com’s resources on Second Wave Feminism
Important groups:
o National/American Women’s Suffrage Movement
o Women Strike for Peace
o National Organization for Women (NOW)
o New York Radical Women
o Redstockings
o Ms. Foundation for Women
o The White House Project

The Civil Rights Movement
Important groups:
o National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
o Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
o Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
o Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

The Student Movement
Important Groups:
o Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
o Revolutionary Youth Movement/Weather Underground

LGBT Movement
Important groups:
o Mattachine Society
o Gay Liberation Front

Modern Conservative Movement
Important Groups:
o Save Our Children
o Focus on the Family
o Tea Party Patriots
o John Birch Society

Current Movements

Occupy Wall Street
The OWS movement that spread across the country this fall brought the term “income inequality” into the national vocabulary.  Here are some useful resources for more information about the movement.


HuffingtonPost interview with historian Robert Cohen on the protest as it stands in context with other modern social movements

map of the actions and events that took place across the globe in support or connection with the movement.

Arab Spring
In the spring of 2010 we witnessed revolution in the Middle East.  What began in Tahrir Square in Egypt in January of that year, quickly spread across the region.  The season of uprisings and protests against authoritarian regimes became known as the “Arab Spring”, but the movement continues today.  Below are some resources that may be useful in explaining what is happening abroad.

A timeline of events from the BBC

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