Magazine article Black Enterprise

Lessons from History: Can the Boycott Still Be Effective in the '90S?

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Lessons from History: Can the Boycott Still Be Effective in the '90S?

Article excerpt

The civil rights movement continues to celebrate its 40th birthday in 1996 as yearlong festivities mark the 381 days of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Heralded as the spark that kicked off the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks' actions in 1955 changed a nation. But the question in 1996 is whether the boycott remains an effective tool for change.

While none could measure up to Montgomery for the sweeping changes it brought about, the economic boycott has been used effectively by groups across the country in times since. Last year alone, several boycotts were started across the country including:

* In Battleboro, N.C., earlier last year, a group of black residents calling themselves Concerned Citizens of Battleboro started a boycott of local white-owned businesses after police maced and arrested a 36-year-old black woman after she intervened in a police traffic stop involving her niece.

* A group of black ministers in Indianapolis planned a boycott effort against the city's $314 million Circle Centre mall following an announcement that the city was planning to allow its Metro bus system to privatize.

* And although no tangible results have been realized yet, several organizations, including the National Urban League, the National Bar Association and BLACK ENTERPRISE, have canceled convention dates in California following anti-affirmative action efforts by Gov. Pete Wilson.

"A boycott remains an effective tool because it's something everyone can participate in and because of its tradition rooted in the civil rights movement," says H. …

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