Getting into Good Trouble: Exploring the Act of Protest Around the World

Watch this program live on our Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages on Tuesday, September 29th, 2020 at 11:00 AM EST
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The Africa Center in partnership with the Open Society Foundations and the Proteus Fund presents a discussion on how communities around the world are engaging in and expanding the space for protest and protecting the right to assembly.

Sparked by the dynamic Movement for Black Lives and in response to authoritarian measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, a vibrant new wave of protests for racial justice and democracy are flourishing worldwide. Join us as we discuss how communities around the world are engaging in and expanding the space for protest and protecting the right to assembly, inspired by The Africa Center’s recent public screening of John Lewis: Good Trouble.  

In new arenas of sport, business, education, and cultural life – demonstrations, boycotts, and dissent against structural inequalities and authoritarianism are on the rise. Through the common struggle against oppression, #BlackLivesMatter has led to #ZimbabweanLivesMatter, #StopHateforProfit, and sparked new life in democracy movements worldwide, bringing energy, tactics, and global solidarity for the fundamental right to protest. 

Peaceful assembly or nonviolent protest, referred to as “Good Trouble” by the late Congressman John Lewis, has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to disrupt and dismantle entrenched authoritarian political structures and further the structural reforms required to secure economic and racial justice. Good trouble is often required to necessitate change.

However, this wave of protests has been met by a militarized response, contrary to guidance from the UN Human Rights Committee that monitors how countries police peaceful assemblies. Furthermore, thousands of protesters have been arrested under the pretext of COVID-19 health restrictions, highlighting the weaponization of public health measures in restricting the right to protest.

The ability to #BuildBackBetter from the pandemic depends on the ability of citizens to effectively participate in shaping the decisions that their governments make at this crucial inflection point, and their ability to demonstrate peacefully in favor of reforms is a critical component to ensuring that their voices are heard.

The discussion will be moderated by Uzodinma Iweala, The Africa Center’s CEO.


  • Michelle Bachelet – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Patrick Gaspard – President of the Open Society Foundations
  • Christof Heyns – Former UN special rapporteur and member of the Human Rights Committee
  • Mary Harvey – Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights
  • Peter Mutasa – President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
  • Nneka Ogwumike – President of the WNBA Players Association


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Event photo credit: Thomas De Luze, @thomas_de_luze

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