How To Become an Activist

Some Tips and Pointers to Get Involved in Activism

Anti-Trump Protesters Demonstrate In Times Square Against Trump Announcement Of Banning LGBT Service Members. Spencer Platt Getty Images

It's as much a calling as it is a profession. You see something wrong in the world and you want to change it. There are countless ways to do that, from petitioning lawmakers to protesting on the street to personally helping and advocating for a single victim of injustice. If this sounds like something that appeals to you, here's how to go about establishing a career as a civil liberties activist. 

Difficulty: N/A

Time Required: Variable

Here's How:

  1. Figure out what you're most passionate about. Are you interested in civil liberties in general, or is there a specific civil liberties-related issue such as free speech, abortion or gun rights that interest you?
  2. Get educated. Read up on your American history and develop a functional understanding of how the government works.
  3. Develop sound arguments to back up your positions. Two highly effective ways to do this include familiarizing yourself with the arguments used by people with whom you agree, as well as with arguments used by people with whom you disagree.
  4. Keep up with current events. Scour the Internet and find blogs that focus on your topic. Read newspapers and follow the evening news for issues you might not even have thought about yet, issues that are just beginning to reach a boiling point.
  5. Join a group. Activists don't work well alone. Your best bet is to join a group that focuses on your concern. Attend local chapter meetings. If there is no local chapter, consider starting one. Networking with other activists will educate you, provide you with a support network, and help you focus your energies on productive activism strategies.

    Tips:

    1. Be practical. Don't get so caught up in your hope for radical, sweeping reforms that you lose sight of real opportunities to make incremental progress.
    2. Don't hate people you disagree with. If you forget how to communicate with people on the other side of the issue, you'll lose your ability to bring others around to your way of thinking.
    1. Don't lose hope. You will almost certainly experience depressing setbacks, but activist movements take time. Women's suffrage was advocated in the United States as far back as the 18th century and only became a reality in 1920.
    2. Go back to school if you don't already have a degree. This goes hand-in-hand with educating yourself, but it serves another purpose as well. That degree will open doors that might have otherwise remained closed to you. A law degree is a lofty goal, but lawyers are trained in the skills and weapons that are necessary to tackle broad platforms at governmental levels. Even a bachelor's degree in pre-law or one of the social sciences can be immensely helpful, and nothing says you can't pursue your cause or causes while you're going to school. Many famous activists have done just that.