Student Explores Historic Protests in Wake of Ferguson

October 23, 2014

As part of her course work in Professor of Philosophy Roderic Owen’s class, “Gandhi and Non-Violence” sophomore Megan Edwards will deliver a presentation October 23 — “Does Non-Violent Protest Still Work?” — highlighting the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in the aftermath of a controversial police shooting.

Even before enrolling in Owen’s class, Edwards was passionate about approaching conflicts peacefully. Owen’s students are exploring the life and thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi and the numerous social and political movements that have been influenced by the leader for Indian independence.

“I hope to inform students on the topic of nonviolent protest and how to take a nonviolent approach to conflict,” said the marketing communication major from Glen Allen. “There will be examples proving how [these types of protest] can be successful and unsuccessful.”

Though Edwards’ presentation will help her fulfill a Global Honors Scholar requirement, interest in the topic compelled her to share with the Mary Baldwin University campus.

“I decided to present to the school because I believe that it is a very important topic that everyone should be informed about,” she said. “I also wanted to bring more awareness on what is going on in Ferguson. There is so much violence going on in the world, and I wanted to take a further look into nonviolent protest. I know that Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi both took a nonviolent approach, but does it still work in the 21st century in the U.S.?”

Edwards came to the conclusion that the ongoing events in Ferguson have failed in terms of peaceful protest. In August, a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb fatally shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. Disputed circumstances of the shooting have led to protests that have gained international attention.

“There is no leadership. It is unorganized. There is no main issue that they are protesting against,” Edwards said. “They are recruiting people, but they are not training others to be peaceful. There is lack of communication as well. Because of the lack of organization, tact, and strategy it leads me to conclude that the protest will be unsuccessful.”

There will be a question-and-answer session following Edwards’ presentation, which begins at 6:30 p.m. this evening in Francis Auditorium.