Five or six decades ago, a big crowd meant something big. When 250,000 people gathered for the 1963 March on Washington, or nearly a million showed up for the 1982 anti-nukes rally in Central Park, it symbolized a certain power and legitimacy, a collective coming-of-age. A major protest presented a huge organizational challenge, and pulling one off delivered a potent message: Here was a force to be reckoned with.
Today, the mass protest is often seen as a beginning, not an end — a moment of “bursting onto the scene, but only the first stage in a potentially long journey,” as the sociologist Zeynep Tufekci writes in her 2017 book, “Twitter and Tear Gas.” Getting people onto the streets remains difficult and time-consuming, but in the era of social media, it’s far easier than it once was. Now the real challenge comes after the grand event: Will the passion of the crowd translate into a “movement” capable of being sustained over the long term?
Read the full article at NYTimes.com.