While working on Utah's Freedom Riders earlier this year, KUED producer Nancy Green realized that most people today have a romanticized notion of the 1960s Civil Rights movement. "The reality is that it was a tumultuous time," says Green. "We see it as the pinnacle of student activism, thinking that everyone spoke in unison. In reality, it was far more divided. "
Her experience got Green thinking about what has happened to student activism today, which led to her follow-up documentary, Freedom's Promise, airing Tuesday, November 8 at 7:00 p.m. on KUED.
"I started looking at what is going on in Utah now," she says. "What's interesting is that we probably have more student activism today. The problem is there are so many issues and so many people clamoring to make their voices heard that activism is not attracting the kind of focused attention it got in the 1960s. Today we have social media, the internet and a thousand different news stories coming at us. How are students navigating that? How are they carrying on the tradition of activism in the 21st century?"
She found that today's students are concerned about immigration, the environment, sexual orientation issues and many other topics regarding discrimination. "At the core of all of it, it's really all about inclusion," concludes Green. "It's a struggle for those who are disenfranchised and underrepresented to find a way to make their voices heard. Activism is a way for people to affect change. It's really about the democratic process."
Getting any traction in the mainstream media has become more difficult. Some students are using social networking, others are using old-school tactics like rallies and marches. Others are saying the answer is to educate younger people about the political process and ways to alter the system. Some are resorting to civil disobedience.