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America’s History Of Peaceful Protest

America’s History Of Peaceful Protest
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BY TAMI ROGERS

We are at a crossroads in America. We have a President who has implemented policies that many Americans don’t agree with—and justifiably, some are anxious and even frightened. The overwhelming feeling on social media seems to be powerlessness.

But there’s good news. An American tradition called peaceful protest has brought about change throughout the course of history of this country and made our government pay attention.

The tradition that can be traced as far back as 1773 when protesters gathered on a frigid, cold night in Boston Harbor to reject the latest shipment of tea from the East India Company. (http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2096654_2096653,00.html)

While peaceful protest is a right every American has, violence and disregard for the law is not something that should ever be tolerated.

But when our President is proposing policy that is in direct conflict with our constitution, it makes sense that a large group of Americans feel the need to speak out.

On Martin Luther King Day, it’s good to remember some of the peaceful protests that our country has had. While not all the outcomes led to immediate change, many affected large policy and government changes down the road.

  1. Women’s Suffrage Movement

On March 3, 1913, lawyer Inez Millholland Boissevain led more than 5,000 marchers down Washington D.C.’s Pennsylvania Avenue.

http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1887394_1861259,00.html

The National American Woman Suffrage Association raised over $14,000 to support that event and it became a pivotal moment in the fight for a woman’s right to vote. That right was finally achieved seven years later.

  1. Civil Rights

On December 28, 1963, over 200,000 peaceful protesters descended on Washington D.C. The crowd stood for hours in the sweltering heat as musicians and speakers appealed for equal rights for African Americans and all minorities.

Thanks to powerful speeches, including the famed “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr., the march went down as the most convincing event that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  1. Antiwar

Throughout U.S. history, antiwar demonstrations have happened. But perhaps none were as powerful as the one that took place on a frigid day in the fall of 1969.

Over 500,000 people marched on Washington to protest the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. While the war dragged on for six more years, it remains the largest political rally in our nation’s history.

  1. Gay Rights

On June 28, 1969, a police raid on New York City’s Stonewall Inn became a catalyst for a national movement. Violent police beatings of protesters turned into a full-scale rally for acceptance and equality.

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2096654_2096653_2096694,00.html

On June 26, 2015 in a landmark Supreme Court decision, Obergefell V. Hodges, the right was extended for same sex couples to marry. Unfortunately, the LBGTQ community must continue to fight against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0761909.html

  1. Labor Movement

The railroad strikes and protests in the Southwest in 1887 began many years of fighting and protest for change and union organization for American workers.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until a great tragedy in New York City in 1911, The Triangle Shirtwaist fire which killed 146 people, that real change began to take place.

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2096654_2096653_2096680,00.html

A commission was formed shortly afterward, leading to stricter workplace-safety laws, safer factories and shorter workdays. It also boosted the Union movement and went on to ensure many of the rights we enjoy today—like collective bargaining and the minimum wage.

  1. The Tea Party

The Tea Party has been one of the strongest political movements in terms of outcome in recent history.

In 2009, after the election of President Barack Obama, modern-day conservatives, concerned about big government, organized and began to mail tea bags into congressional offices. The Tea Party mobilized and protests sprang up across the country.

It grew from a grass roots phenomenon into a powerful movement that fueled the Republicans’ return to the majority in the House in the 2010 midterm elections.

http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1887394_1861259,00.html

These are just a few examples of the many ways peaceful protest has led to significant changes in our country. Proving, that when we stand as a collective group, it is possible to change the course of history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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