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Richard Hamlet Project report MACS390, “Media, war and peace,” autumn session, 2012 Media and Cultural Studies, University of Wollongong The project report.

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Presentation on theme: "Richard Hamlet Project report MACS390, “Media, war and peace,” autumn session, 2012 Media and Cultural Studies, University of Wollongong The project report."— Presentation transcript:

1 Richard Hamlet Project report MACS390, “Media, war and peace,” autumn session, 2012 Media and Cultural Studies, University of Wollongong The project report had two components. For details of the assignment see 1. An information pack, starting on the next slide. 2. A fictional dialogue about carrying out the project, available as a separate file. This document can be accessed via

2 Student Number: 3870789 Tutor: Ian Miles


4 Context During the mid 20 th Century, the USA saw a massive socio- political upheaval following a wave of protests known as the Civil Rights Movement.

5 Context (cont.) The lunch counter sit-ins at Greensboro inspired this wave of protests through the black community across the cities of the USA [1]. The student sit-ins of the 1960s transformed the struggle of civil rights into a mass movement, with nonviolent action forming the central strategy [2].

6 What is a Sit-in? A sit-in is one of many forms of nonviolent action using the body of the person as a tool of obstruction, in turn generating attention.

7 What is a Sit-in? (cont.) To expand, “a sit-in is usually thought of as an organized demonstration of some sort, usually relating to some aspect of civil rights or to a peace effort in which protest is being made” [3]. The concept of the sit-in took on greater meaning through the lunch counter sit-ins by performing the action the protest is about and generating a greater appeal as a result [4]. The protest used the act of sitting in order to challenge the issue of sitting arrangement by race.

8 Theory: Nonviolent Action Nonviolent action is described as “a strategy for bringing about social or political change and is largely conducted by civilian-based groups with a sophisticated set of tactics” [5]. Those who use nonviolent action are not avoiding conflict, but fighting against the issue with weapons that are nonconventional and nonviolent [6]. The Nashville sit-ins are a prime example of this, addressing the issue through nonviolent means by civilians.

9 Why the Nashville Sit-ins? The Nashville sit-ins comprised of students sitting at white-only lunch counters in protest of racial segregation and racism. The sit-in movement became a cornerstone of the activism produced through the Civil Rights Movement [7]. The Nashville sit-ins were well structured and media formed an important tool to their operations.

10 Leading Up to the Sit-ins Students participated in workshops on nonviolence prior to the protests, providing crucial training for maintaining nonviolent principles. They also conducted test sit- ins in November of 1959, generating valuable experience.

11 Leading Up to the Sit-ins (cont.) The Nashville Christian Leadership Council held the workshops during spring of 1959 to gauge issues of race segregation and racism to decide on how to work toward change, with a majority agreement to desegregate downtown Nashville starting with restaurants [8].

12 Starting the Nashville Sit-ins The Nashville sit-ins began on the 13 th of February 1960 and concluded on the 10 th of May that same year. Reverend Douglas Moore’s phone call to Reverend James Lawson in response to the Greensboro sit-ins spurred the Nashville sit-in plans to begin [9]. Effective mobilisation of the students can be attributed to the close proximity and participation of Fisk University, Tennessee State College, American Baptist Theological Seminary, and Meharry Medical School [10]. Location helped to counter a lack of effective means for communications.

13 Important Participants Everyday people formed the body of the movement. Reverend James Lawson helped run the nonviolent action workshops and headed the movement. He’s described as “an expert tactician of nonviolent protest” [11]. The participants of the sit-ins. Students were ideal, given their lack of responsibilities and conceptions of what is possible [12].

14 Important Participants (cont.) Institutions were also important. Churches became a hub for activity. They provided the organisational resources necessary to effective participation [13]. The media, both as an effective means of spreading information and raising awareness.

15 Media as an Inspiration Research into the Civil Rights Movement shows that “Protestors recalled first learning about sit-ins in other cities from newspaper, radio, or television” [14], demonstrating the influence of media in protestor motivation.

16 Media as an Inspiration (cont.) Furthermore, analysis of the movement shows that “protest tended to follow the newspaper circulation network” [15]. Yet despite this efficacy of the media to motivate it was not intentional, deriving from knowledge of the protests [16]. The broadcast media was manipulated by protestors through providing nothing negative to show.

17 Media as a Framer Nashville students saw media as an ally for gaining support through its peaceful portrayal of the protestors [17]. Sympathy for the cause did not generate from kindness shown by white-dominated media, but through the typical structure of good versus bad [18]. The students’ use of nonviolent action portrayed them as quiescent, peaceful citizens, giving them the moral upper hand through the image of the victim.

18 Negotiation The Nashville sit-ins provided the foundation for change, but it was negotiation that achieved it. Hence nonviolent action and negotiation can be seen as having synergistic properties, more powerfully employed together than individually [19]. Negotiation can be seen as embodying the principles of nonviolent action, as it “offers parties the opportunity to have a constructive influence on counterparts by using a strategic and sophisticated set of communication tools” [20].

19 Climax of the Nashville Sit-ins It’s stated that “The turning point came on April 19, when the home of the students' attorney, Z. Alexander Looby, was bombed. Later that day, thousands of people, black and white, marched in silence to City Hall” [21]. The event heightened the perceivable injustice covered by the media, further empowering the cause for racial equality.

20 Results of the Nashville Sit-ins Protestor commitment to nonviolent action led authorities to negotiate, in turn leading to the abolition of racial segregation at lunch counters. Hence through efficient organisation and stoicism, the Nashville sit-ins successfully appeals to the notion that “the principle of nonviolent action is to create a crisis of the kind that brings the opponent to negotiations” [22].

21 Why are the Nashville Sit-ins Important? Sumner suggests four reasons for why the Nashville sit-ins are important which includes its success, concluding two months prior to the events in Greensboro; structurally, being one of the best organised and most disciplined movements; created many future nonviolence leaders; and the successful achievement of their goals through nonviolent action [23]. All four can be attributed to successful use of nonviolent action, with the quicker ending and achievement of goals attributed to negotiation.

22 Why are the Nashville Sit-ins Important (cont.) The Nashville sit-ins are a prime example of effective use of nonviolent action and the sit-in to achieve change. The extent of its potential can be examined in the statement that “Negotiation and nonviolent action are arguably the two best methods humanity has developed for engaging with conflict” [24].

23 Why Was the Media Important? Media was utilised effectively by students to their advantage, creating a positive image while helping to generate greater support and awareness. With the rapid development of social media and the greater control that media users have in modern society, it provides a potential foundation for advancement of the concept of the sit-in and the theory of nonviolent action.

24 References: Andrews, K.T. & Biggs, M. 2006, ‘The Dynamics of Protest Diffusion: Movement Organizations, Social Networks, and News Media in the 1960 Sit-Ins’, American Sociological Review, Vol. 71, No. 5, pp. 752-777 (online JSTOR). Calhoun-Brown, A. 2000, ‘Upon This Rock: The Black Church, Nonviolence, and the Civil Rights Movement’, PS: Political Science and Politics, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 168-174 (online JSTOR). Copeland, L. 2010, ‘Sit-ins reignited the civil rights movement 50 years ago’, USA Today, 1 February, viewed 5 June 2012, 01-sit-ins-civil-rights_N.htm Deats, R. 1999, ‘Fighting Prejudice through Creative Nonviolence: An Interview with Jim Lawson’, Fellowship, Vol. 65, No. 11-12, p.7 (online ProQuest Central). Finnegan, A.C. & Hackley, S.G. 2008, ‘Negotiation and Nonviolent Action: Interacting in the World of Conflict’, Negotiation Journal, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 7-24 (online Wiley Online Library). Foster, S.L. 2003, ‘Choreographies of Protest’, Theatre Journal, Vol. 55, No. 3, pp. 395- 412 (online JSTOR).

25 Harder, K.B. 1968, ‘Coinages of the Type of “Sit-In”’, American Speech, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 58-64 (online JSTOR). Morris, A. 1981, ‘Black Southern Student Sit-in Movement: An Analysis of Internal Organization’, American Sociological Review, Vol. 46, No. 6, pp. 744-767 (online JSTOR). Sumner, D.E. 1995, ‘Nashville, nonviolence, and the newspapers: The convergence of social goals with news values’, Howard Journal of Communications, Vol. 6, No 1-2, pp. 102-113 (online Taylor & Francis Online). Wirmark, B. 1974, ‘Nonviolent Methods and the American Civil Rights Movement 1955-1965’, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 115- 132 (online JSTOR).

26 Images sourced from: Image One: Image Two: Image Three: Image Four: ashville-sit-ins.jpg Image Five: Image Six: M.png Image Seven: Image Eight: Image Nine:

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