Civil Disobedience: History and Praxis


Ethnic Studies Program

Thursdays 5-6:30 pm, MILLER 104
Free and open to the public

For more information contact:
Elliott Young, Director of Ethnic Studies,
Chelsea Jackson, Ethnic Studies administrator,


This workshop is a response to the danger the United States and the world faces in the wake of Donald Trump’s unconstitutional and illegal actions as president. In order to effectively oppose Trump’s agenda, we will look back to previous movements that employed civil disobedience as well as look forward as we develop new tactics that respond to our reality. The course is organized around a variety of themes that will explore the philosophy of civil disobedience as well as examining historical examples from the US and around the world of liberation and civil rights movements.

The subtitle of the course, “history and praxis,” is meant to highlight that we can learn from the past and from the interplay between theory and practice (praxis). In addition to studying social movements, we will invite local Portland organizers in to the class to share their perspectives on the present moment of crisis.

The workshop will employ a Freirian pedagogy that seeks to empower all participants in the class, rather than a teacher-centered model that assumes the teacher has all the answers. The facilitators each week will propose suggested readings for the class that will be distributed on Google Classroom. Participants will be encouraged to add readings, videos, music, etc. to the stream in an effort to build a collective archive of cultural, historical and practical resources.

Although this workshop has been organized by Ethnic Studies, and largely facilitated by professors, there is no academic credit for this class. Everyone receives an A. The class is free and open to the public.


Feb. 9 Workshop Organizing: Latest thoughts on Resistance

Elliott Young, Director of Ethnic Studies and Professor of History
Magalí Rabasa, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies

Erica Chenoweth, “It may only take 3.5% of the population to topple a dictator – with civil resistance,” Guardian, 1 Feb 2017.

The Anti-Inauguration: Building Resistance in the Trump Era (Verso)

Joshua Holland, “Your Guide to the Sprawling New Anti-Trump Resistance Movement,” The Nation, 6 Feb. 2017.

Feb 16  Philosophy and Civil Disobedience

Joel Martinez, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Jay Odenbaugh, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Magot Black, Director of SQRC and Portland Tenants United


Robert Young, Monkeywrenching and Processes of Democracy

Martin Luther King Jr. Letter From a Birmingham Jail

Chris O’Conner, So You’re Going to Protest… Portland Mercury, 18 Jan. 2017.

Feb 23 Latin American and Latinx Struggles: Central American Solidarity and Zapatistas

Magalí Rabasa, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies
Elliott Young, Director of Ethnic Studies and LC Professor of History


Harry Cleaver, The Zapatista Effect: The Internet and the Rise of an Alternative Fabric of Struggle

NEW COMUNIQUÉ from the EZLN, February 2017: “The Walls Above, The Cracks Below (and to the left).

English version

Spanish version

EZLN, The Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle (Esp. Parts III, IV, V)

English version

Spanish version

El Kilombo, “Beyond Resistance: Everything. An Interview with Subcomandante Marcos”

Elliott Young, “Sanctuary in the Trump Era,” NACLA, 3 Feb. 2017,

Mar. 2  Arab Spring, Miller 210

Oren Kosansky, Associate Professor of SOAN
Sara Jay, Visiting Assistant Professor of History


Women’s Movements in Post-“Arab Spring” North Africa. Sadiqi, Fatima (Ed.), Chs. 1 & 4.

Mar 9 : Black Freedom Struggle: Civil Rights, Black Panthers and BLM

Reiko Hillyer, Assistant Professor of History
Greg McKelvey, 3rd Year LC Law Student, Portland’s Resistance founder
Ameya Marie, Catlin Gabel student, 11th grade


Martin Luther King, Jr. “Nonviolence and Racial Justice,” and “My Trip to the Land of Gandhi”

Dan Berger, “Jailhouse in Freedom Land,” from Captive Nation

Robin Kelley, “Why We Can’t Wait” (Counterpunch)

Ta-Nahisi Coates, “Non-Violence as Compliance” (The Atlantic)

Michael Gould-Wartowsky, “When Rioting is Rational” (Jacobin)

Mar 16 Environmental Tactics of Resistance, Miller 104

Arthur Bradford will describe local residents’ use of tree sitting to protect a stand of giant sequoia trees within the city of Portland.  Arthur’s website is:

Shawn Fleek will describe the amazing environmental justice work that the non-profit organization OPAL does here in Portland.  He’ll also talk about the People’s Climate March that is happening on April 29, which is a national effort to demand that more be done to address the dangers of climate change.  OPAL’s website is:

Students from LC’s SEED organization will describe their on-going efforts to get Lewis & Clark College to divest from dangerous fossil fuel industries.  Review their petition, and sign it if you haven’t already, at this website:

Elizabeth Bennett, Assistant Professor of International Affairs
Maryann Bylander, Assistant Professor of SOAN
Bruce Podobnik, Associate Professor of SOAN

Apr. 6 Art and Activism, Miller 104

Kaley Mason, Assistant Professor of Music
Jerry Harp, Associate Professor with Term of English

Apr 13 Free Speech, Hate Groups and the Public, Miller 105

Stuart Kaplan, Professor Emeritus of RHMS and Board Member of Oregon ACLU
Heather Smith, Associate Professor of International Affairs
Elliott Young, Director of Ethnic Studies
Gregory Mckelvey, Third Year Law School student and founder of Portland’s Resistance