Sometimes we get reminders that great social movements cannot remain great forever.
They begin with an ideal. That ideal catches fire and people are drawn to the cause. A missionary zeal takes over and after years of struggle success finally seems achievable.
More battles ensue and then, at the point of exhaustion, the war is won. Progress is enshrined. The gains are banked and change becomes so embedded in the culture that generations that follow take it for granted.
Movement leaders who must carry on from there face their own daunting challenge: How to sustain it? There is always work to do to make things better. But they can never achieve the heights of yesterday’s giants. The moment has passed.
The civil rights movement changed much
The American civil rights movement is like that. Men and women of real courage, who bore daily the wounds of intolerance, drove the enterprise until it changed our world.