Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Political Science (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Patrick Novotny


Understanding the struggle that is peaceful protest is a task that has two unexplored components. The first is how leaders of political movements and protest groups are able to influence the masses to not waiver in their non-violent, peaceful approach. The second is how political groups learn from the failures and successes of the previous campaigns. We are given these circumstances where governmental violence and abuse would normally lead to a retaliatory response from groups, but in order to maintain the fidelity of the movement leaders of these political protests have to protect the nonviolent approach. These are instances where protesters were met with vehement force from dogs to water hoses, to physical violence, all in the name of maintaining the separate but equal mentality that plagued the nation at the time. These protesters would be expected to combat this through uproar and display their fervor through violence, however; they consistently choose a different path. There is another important aspect to this, where we are given the idea that these political movements share both leadership and direction and because of this, we have to anticipate political groups learning from one another. If we can observe the uniformity between the methods, leadership, and ideology between the movements in both Birmingham and Albany then we should be able to see similar if not the same outcomes. With that being said we see two different results in very similar situations, with reasoning why my study will focus on understanding the disconnect between the two outcomes.