Chavez, King and Steinem rallied people in the 1960s and 1970s, but times are changing in the social media age. (AP Photo, File)
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During the 1960s and into the 1970s, amid the turbulence of protests for civil rights and against the Vietnam War, every movement seemed to have a famous face – someone at a podium or at the front of a march who possessed a charismatic style, soaring oratory and an inspiring message.Social media also makes it harder for a leader to emerge because it frequently traffics in bruising personal attacks, says Dana R. Fisher, a University of Maryland sociologist who is writing a book "American Resistance" about large-scale protests.While this democratic approach is effective, experts also say there are benefits to having a leader.Leaders also can mobilize people behind a common cause.Even in King's day, movements couldn't be reduced to a face on TV or a voice at the pulpit.With King's assassination in 1968, he says, there wasn't just the loss of a magnetic leader, but a sense his nonviolent approach wasn't working and a flourishing of the black power movement.These days, there may be no one dominant leader in the African-American community, but social media like Twitter and Facebook offer a different way to rally supporters.
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