Arguably the most famous tea party of all time, The Boston Tea Party was a direct response to British taxation policies,
The British Parliament had passed The Tea Act to which the American colonists reacted with a tea party of their own,
Bostonians boarded the ships Beaver, Dartmouth and Eleanor, dumped 342 crates of tea into the Boston harbour as the taxes were too bigoted to condone.
In doing so they destroyed almost 1.7 million dollars worth of tea that belonged to the British East India Company,
The news of the ‘Destruction of Tea’ inspired protests in New York, Philadelphia and Charleston where people did not allow the British ships to unload,
History was beckoning as the world witnessed its first significant protest unfold.
The Boston Tea Party is largely considered to be a cornerstone of the success of the American Revolution,
The events that followed were created by a snowball effect with the Tea Party being the adumbration.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi began his famous Dandi March on March 12,1930 unknowingly acting as an inspiration for future protesters,
Gandhi assembled his supporters to march 240 miles from his ashram to the Arabian sea to collect salt from the ocean,
It was an ideal method of protest as collecting salt was a completely non-violent activity which did not involve any commotion.
60,000 Indians were arrested for breaking the salt law as under the British Rule, Indians were prohibited from collecting or selling salt,
But the protest continued until Gandhi was granted bargaining rights at a negotiation in London,
The Salt Satyagraha had made Gandhi the poster boy of Civil Disobedience, throngs of commoners now supported him with gay abandon.
The next checkpoint in the history of epochal protests is the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” on August 28,1963
African Americans had been freed from slavery for a century but continued to live lives burdened by inequality,
Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation as the world watched white Americans get away with brazen impropriety.
A coalition of leaders called the “Big Six” which included Martin Luther King Jr. called for an end to racism and pushed for civil and economic rights,
Standing at the base of the Lincoln Memorial Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the most famous speech in American history,”I Have a Dream”,
A masterpiece of rhetoric, the speech was a defining moment in the Civil Rights movement as King egged on his supporters in a now famously quoted line, ”I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character,
“I have a Dream!”
King’s speech was both militant and sad, it caught the mood and moved the crowd,
He put to shame the advocates of segregation by inspiring the conscience of America, crying out his dreams of equality out loud.
The march is credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed discrimination based on race, colour, religion or national origin,
The nation had lifted itself from the quicksands of racial injustice as a stone of hope emerged from a mountain of despair for the coloured American.
We will now turn our attention to a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela,
Rolihlahla colloquially means “Troublemaker”, Mr Mandela lived up to his name as he did his best to unsettle the National party’s ‘white only government’ which had established apartheid,
Mandela’s first court statement in 1962,”Black man in a White man’s court” raised a very pertinent question,“Why is it that in this courtroom I face a white magistrate, am confronted by a white prosecutor, and escorted into the dock by a white orderly? Why is it that no African in the history of this country has ever had the honour of being tried by his own kith and kin, by his own flesh and blood?”, and shot him into the limelight.
A police raid on a farm, Rivonia established the African National Congress’ central role in the struggle against apartheid,
Mandela and seven other active members were convicted and sentenced to life in prison on charges of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government,
It was a travesty of justice as the angel safeguarding the ideals of democracy was at the mercy of the unjust ‘white complainant’.
The angel spent the next 18 years in Robben Island prison,7 miles off the coast of Cape Town,
Followed by 8 years in various mainland prisons showcasing unbelievable grit and determination without any signs of a breakdown.
Before being jailed Mandela had proclaimed, ”I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society. It is an ideal I hope to live for and to see realised. But, My Lord, if the need arises, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Fortunately, the tide turned as their perseverance turned out to be their most potent ally.
Mandela was freed on Feb 11,1990(After spending 27 years in prison) with the new South African president, F.W. de Klerk enlisting Mandela in negotiations over a new constitution,
David had yet again come out trumps in a David vs Goliath situation as the whites were mere spectators to Mandela’s Nobel Peace Prize felicitation.
The African National Congress won more than 62 percent of the vote in 1994 and Mandela was elected President without opposition,
Entrusted with the herculean task of reconciliation and rescuing “blacks” sorry “citizens” from destitution.
Revisiting these demurrals and discovering their harsh ground realities help us realise that, ”Change is often presented as a gift granted by the powerful, but it has much to do with the struggle and sacrifice of those from below”,
“ChangeforChange is our tea party,
We beam with pride in the ‘March of Lights’ afterglow,
The one thing that we must not forget is that, like all successful protests,
The key is to ‘Never Let Go’ ”.
By Chitranjan Jain