A City of Protests: A year unlike any other

FILE -- Demonstrators take to the streets of downtown Portland in January 2017 as part of the Women's March. (KATU File Photo)

It's been a year since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. Since then, it's been a year of protests, big and small, destructive and peaceful.

In Portland, a city known for protests, it's been a year unlike any other.

“The first thing that really strikes me is that there are individuals across the political spectrum who feel their voices aren’t being heard unless they take to the streets,” Dr. Winston Grady-Willis, director of the school of Gender, Race and Nations at Portland State University, said.

Grady-Willis says movements like we have seen could bring about change, like they did in the late 1960s.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, would not have happened, at least, without the speed, if not for on the ground, grass-roots protests,” he said.

Some of the dozens of groups who've protested in Portland over the past year have resorted to destructive tactics to spread their message.

Grady-Willis says that tactic can backfire, turning away potential allies. What works, he says, is when different groups come together.

“We have to in this really polarized moment, really make room for dialogue, engage one another, even with those we disagree. If we don’t, I don’t know how far we will move forward as a society,” he said.

The Portland Women's March stands out. Since that cold January day, the group of women organizing the march have not stopped pushing the movement forward.

“We have to keep moving. We have to keep educating folks about the issues, especially from under represented communities,” said Erica Fuller, co-organizer of the Women’s March.

Fuller is among a group of local women who furthered their cause by attending the National Women's March Convention in Detroit.

“What we are trying to do here is learn more skills to bring back to Portland so we can figure out and start collaborating and orchestrating,” Fuller said.

Grady-Willis also says we are at a unique moment in history, where we have new grass-roots groups as well as members of groups from the 60s. He says because of that younger activists should be looking to their older counterparts for advice on how to navigate today.

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