When millions of people took to the streets for the 2017 Women’s Marches, there was an unmistakable air of uprising, a sense that these marches had spurred the beginnings of a movement. But the enduring work that protests do often can't be seen in the moment. It feels powerful to march, but when and how does marching matter?
In this original and richly illustrated account, activist and organizer L.A. Kauffman delves into the history of America’s major demonstrations from the 1963 March on Washington onward to reveal just what it is that protests accomplish, and how they’ve shifted over time. Using the signs that demonstrators carry as rich clues to how protests are organized, Kauffman explores the nuanced relationship between the way movements are made and the impact they have. In the process, How to Read a Protest sheds new light on the catalytic power of collective action and the bottom-up, women-led model for organizing that's transforming what movements look like and what they can win.
L.A. Kauffman has been a grassroots organizer for more than thirty years and served as the mobilizing coordinator for the massive Iraq antiwar protests of 2003-2004. She has covered social movement history and activism for The Guardian, n+1, and numerous other publications and is the author of Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism.