PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Occupy Wall Street protests spurred Occupy Philadelphia, as well as other protests around the country. But how does a grass roots protest grow into a full-blown social movement?
“The United States was founded by dissenters,” says Ralph Young, a history professor at Temple University and the author of Dissent in America.
He says the Occupy protests are in the infant stages of a full-blown social movement.
“Many of the early episodes in the Civil Rights movement with Rosa Parks or the four young men sitting down at a lunch counter in Greenboro, (were) sort of grass roots and not terribly organized at that point and then it becomes organized.”
Young says eventually leaders emerge and, if the dissenters do not see relief, the movement could grow.
“If people aren’t listening then people have to push.”
He says the Occupy Philadelphia protests have been percolating for many months following America’s economic downturn.
“A lot of people were hoping that things would change, hoping that the leadership in Washington would do something about it.”
He says when government fails to respond to what people want, social unrest is born.
“If this jobs bill that Obama introduced were to get passed it would probably go to alleviate some of the pressure.”
But he says if Americans don’t get some relief soon the Occupy movement could snowball.
“And eventually the snowball coming down the hill could turn into an avalanche.”
Reported by Cherri Gregg, KYW Newsradio 1060