Beyond the Ballot

The First Amendment of the Constitution established that Congress shall make no law restricting “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Not limiting their participation to electoral politics, individuals and groups with very different resources—on the streets, in back rooms, and through the media of their times—have brought their interests and concerns before the nation. Through early 18th-century petitioning and mass demonstrations, formal and informal lobbying of government officials, and electronic letter writing campaigns, Americans have exercised this very basic democratic right to shape their country beyond the ballot box.

Where is Democracy?

Detail from Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) organizing pamphlet, 1960s

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