Montgomery Bus Boycott v. the revolution in Egypt

The Montgomery bus boycott is one of the biggest events of the U.S. civil rights movements, which was a social and political protest against racial segregation.  This campaign started when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white person. It lasted from December 1, 1955 until December 20, 1956 when the ruling of Browder v. Gayle took effect. This Supreme Court decision declared that segregated buses in Alabama and Montgomery were unconstitutional. The goal of this boycott was to end the segregation on the buses, as well as draw attention the issue that there was not equality among all men.

In 1955, for a protest to be successful, it had to be “city-wide.” In order for that to occur, certain media had to be used to be able to spread the word and ensure collective action. The Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was an organization was formed in 1955 by black ministers and was key in success of the boycott, the leader of course being, Martin Luther King Jr. This organization organized carpools and held weekly gatherings. The church meetings they held was a way of keeping everyone connected. Also, when King spoke to thousands, it demanded television coverage. The media used in this time was mostly word of mouth, bulletins, and newspapers. The other way which we discussed in class was comic books. Overall, the more coverage they got, the more people joined in the cause.

The revolution in Egypt was a movement that occurred in a variety of ways such as marches, riots, labor strikes, etc. by millions of protestors from different religious and economic backgrounds with the goal of overthrowing the regime. The reason they wanted to overthrow is was because of all the oppression such as police brutality, political censorship, high unemployment and food price inflation, and overall corruption.


After Khaled Said was killed by police, his face became the symbol of the revolution. The different media used to meet the goal to overthrow the regime was how people were organized in taking these stances and sit-ins. Videos of brutality were shared and pictures such as Khaled Said were spread. Gerbaudo himself witnessed an Egyptian woman take out her phone to take a photo of the attack at the square and tweeted.

The use of media is so important because not only does it aid in organizing revolution but also helps elicit “external attention,” as Gerbaudo phrases. Their goals were met with the assistance of media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is used in order to form these groups and get followers rallied behind one main idea or symbol. It offers connections and gives everyone a voice. Twitter is used in “real-time” organizing such as the woman Gerbaudo saw post the picture of the attack in the square. It informs at that moment. So it is obvious the way media is used now in movements is dramatically different then the way it was such in the example of the bus boycott.

Modern day media is the same as newspapers in that they are the “agitator” of collective action. The media use of the revolution in Egypt and the civil rights movement are the same in that both are channels through which each communicate and mobilize their actions. Meaning newspapers, comic books, and word of mouth give shape to the way in which people come and act together, just as the We are all Khaled Said Facebook page brought people together and called them to action.

The way it is different now is the way in which people talk to each other. Gerbaudo uses the term “horizantilism” to portray that there is no longer 1 leader, telling people what to do instead it is interactive and collective because social media gives everyone a voice. The civil rights movement was obviously mostly led by Dr. King. The revolution in Egypt instead has “soft leaders,” or influential Facebook administrators and activist tweeps who become the choreographers of sit-ins and other protests.


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