Things That I Love About America: Reformers and Social Justice Movements

During the Fourth of July I try to recount some of the things that I love about this country. One of the things that I love about this country is the history of reformers and social movements in helping America get closer to living up to its democratic ideals.

I am a big admirer of the various social movements that have allowed more people to have access to the full citizenship rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The Abolition movement, the Women’s Suffrage movement, the Labor movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Feminist movement, the LGBTQ rights movement, the Asian American movement, the Immigrant Rights movement, and the many other social movements where people fight for inclusion in the American Dream. As a Filipino American, I am grateful for the work of past Filipino American leaders like Carlos Bulosan, Chris Mensalvas, Larry Itliong, Philip Vera Cruz, Pete Velasco, Andy Imutan, Benjamin Gines and others who fought against discrimination and for opportunities that I took for granted.

I am eternally grateful for the historians that have helped educate me on the importance of social movements that helped make the United States get closer to becoming a true democratic republic. Historians like Howard Zinn, Ronald Takaki, Eric Foner, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Joseph Ellis, William Lee Miller, and others. If I wasn’t an art major, I would’ve been a history major in college. From reading these history books, I have a belief on the two ingredients necessary for social change: radicals and social movements are needed to facilitate protests to pressure the system from the outside and to spark debate on the issues and begin a change in attitudes; reformers are needed inside the system to propose legislation to address the issues, build coalitions of disparate groups, make compromises, and articulate arguments in a way that can persuade moderates to their cause. It is only with these two ingredients working in conjunction that social change is possible.

Here is a 2010 presentation of The Massachusetts School of Law’s program where Dean Lawrence R. Velvel interviewed American Historian Howard Zinn on the importance of protest. In the interview, Howard Zinn said, “It is very important that people engage in even the smallest of actions even if they don’t seem to bring any immediate results. It’s these small actions that build and build and build that eventually come to fruition.”

About angelolopez

I’ve wanted to be an artist all my life. Since I was a child I’ve drawn on any scrap of paper I could get a hold of. When I went to San Jose State University, I became more exposed to the works of the great fine artists and illustrators. My college paintings were heavily influenced by the humorous illustrations of Peter De Seve, an illustrator for the New Yorker magazine. I also fell under the spell of the great muralists of the 1930s, especially Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera. I graduated with a degree in Illustration. Angelo Lopez has had illustrations published in Tikkun Magazine, the Palo Alto Daily News and Z Magazine. From April 2008 to May 2011, Angelo's cartoons were regularly published in the Tri-City Voice, a weekly newspaper that covers the Fremont, Hayward, Milpitas, Neward, Sunol and Union City areas in California. He did a political webcomic starring his cartoon character Jasper for the progressive blogsite Everyday Citizen. Since December 2011, Angelo does a regular weekly political cartoon for the Philippine News Today, a Filipino American newspaper based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Angelo is a member of the Sunnyvale Art Club, and the Northern California chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. During the 1990s, he was a member of the part-timer workers SEIU unit in the city of Sunnyvale. Angelo won the 2013, 2015 and 2016 and 2018 Sigma Delta Chi award for editorial cartooning for newspapers with a circulation under 100,000. He has also won the 2016 RFK Book and Journalism Award for Editorial Cartoons. Angelo won first prize for the Best of the West contest in 2016 and third prize in 2017. Angelo is married to Lisa Reeber. They enjoy taking walks, watching movies and hanging out with their nieces.
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