On Saturday 10 January 2015 Gavin Brown ran an afternoon of discussions about ‘Youthful Resistance‘ for Leicester People’s University. This free event, held in the basement of a popular bar in the city centre, was attended by about twenty people. The afternoon started with Gavin talking about the history of young people’s involvement in the Non-Stop Picket, and their relationship to the struggles of South African youth against apartheid. In taking this focus, Gavin was not suggesting that only young people participated in the Non-Stop Picket – in fact, he explicitly explored the importance of young people’s interactions and friendships with picketers from a different generations. He explored these themes through the stories of five young picketers who were interviewed for this research.
The rest of the afternoon was far more participatory and engaged the audience in actively sharing their knowledge and experiences about youthful resistance in different time periods and in different national contexts. We explored the relationship between youth subcultures and the political movements that young people engage with in a particular period – recognizing that, although these seldom neatly and completely map onto each other, they are frequently related nonetheless.
In the final session, Gavin revisited stories from the Non-Stop Picket to think about the former picketers reflections on the skills, knowledge and values that they carried with them after the Picket ended in 1990. These themes were then further explored through the experiences and life histories of the people in the room – thinking about the continuities and changes that occur in individuals’ activism and political engagements as they age. We acknowledged that while few people maintain a constant engagement in activism throughout their lives, neither do people who have been active in their youth necessarily give it all up as their circumstances change. Both the Non-Stop Picket research and the experiences of participants in the Leicester People’s University suggest that people find inventive ways of fitting political and community engagements around their other commitments.