Module 18 Assignment: Social Movement Amidst the Racial Reckoning of 2020

Open Pedagogy Assignments are assignments in which students use their agency and creativity to create knowledge artifacts that can support their learning, their classmates’ learning, and the learning of students around the world. (See this peer-reviewed article for more details.) The assignment on this page is aligned to a learning outcome in Introduction to Sociology and we’ve identified the module where the content appears. The assignment can be created with basic web and computing tools, a cell phone camera or any video recording device, Google or Word documents, and your learning management system.

In the module on Social Movements and Social Change, we learned about various theoretical perspectives on social movements as a way to deepen our understanding of these phenomena. For this assignment, you are going to work with a small group to apply one of these theories as a way to better understand the dynamics of the ongoing racial reckoning that exploded in the summer of 2020.

Context: The killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests in May 2020 precipitated an international reckoning on topics of racial injustice. Public opinion of racism and discrimination quickly shifted in the wake of the protests, with significantly increased support for the Black Lives Matter movement and wider belief in systemic advantages and disadvantages due to race. Demonstrators revived a public campaign for the removal of Confederate monuments and memorials associated with the country’s legacy of racism, but activism spread to a reckoning on the value of other historic symbols, such as statues of venerated American slaveholders and displays of the Confederate battle flag. Public backlash widened to other institutional symbols, including place names, namesakes, brands, and cultural practices. American consumers sought out Black-owned businesses to support. The effects of American activism extended internationally, as global protests destroyed their own local symbols of racial injustice.

Assignment: Working within a small group of fellow students, you will be creating a short video or slide show to present three things:

  1. A brief summary of a sociological theory related to social movements of your choice
  2. An example of this social movement from your community (use pictures, videos, and/or audio recordings to help illustrate your example as you can)
  3. An explanation of how the theory can help us understand what was happening in your example

There are many correct answers for this assignment, so aim to find an example that helps your audience understand a bit more about your theory and the cultural context of when it was formed.

A Note To Teachers: Your students in the first term will create definitions of the theories that other students can build from in the following terms. With their permission, you can upload the first term assignments into your course in order to show examples for the next term. The idea will be to have students generate content that other students can learn from with this assignment.