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Large Protetests Held In US - History

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April 15,1967

Massive Demonstrations Held

US Protesters

Massive demonstrations are held throughout the US against the war. Protesters in New York City's Central Park, burn 200 draft cards.

7 Influential Protests in American History

Since America’s beginning people have used protests to make their voices heard and advocate for change. Here are a few historic examples.

By Nicole Dudenhoefer 󈧕 | July 2, 2020

Soon after George Floyd’s death and the worldwide protests demanding justice for Black lives and police-department reforms, Minneapolis’ city council announced June 7 it planned to disband their local force and invest in a community-based public-safety program.

As protests have continued nationwide, more than a dozen other U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Dallas, and Washington, D.C., have also made commitments to reduce police resources and funding, and make changes to their systems.

Throughout American history, peaceful protesting — which is protected under the First Amendment and is an act of patriotism — has been utilized to advocate for and lead to change. While the overall impacts of the current national protests are still unfolding, they will likely be influential, just like these movements:

Boston Tea Party

Dec. 16, 1773
Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston Tea Party was the first significant act of rebellion by American colonist against the British. For years, colonists were unfairly taxed by the British government without representation in Parliament, and the Tea Act of 1773, which granted a monopoly and tax exemption to the British East Indian Company, was the final straw that caused American opposition.

Sixty men lead by the Sons of Liberty disguised themselves as Native Americans on Dec. 16, 1773, and threw 342 chests – 92,000 pounds – of tea into Boston Harbor. The protest was met with punishment from the British as Parliament passed punitive measures, such as closing Boston’s port until the debt from the Boston Tea Party was paid, and housing British troops in American homes, through the Intolerable Acts that aimed to target Massachusetts and divide the other colonies. Instead, it sparked the First Continental Congress in 1774 and led to the American Revolution, which began in Massachusetts in 1775 and ended in 1783 when the British formally recognized U.S. independence.

Women’s Suffrage Parade

March 3, 1913
Washington, D.C.

After 60 years of women fighting for suffrage, the first major demonstration for the cause took place during a parade on the eve of President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. The parade, organized by the National American Woman Suffrage Association and activist Alice Paul, consisted of more than 5,000 suffragettes, four mounted brigades, nine bands and 20 parade floats. During the march on Pennsylvania Ave, opposing spectators attacked demonstrators and police did not intervene, leading to injuries for more than 100 women.

The strategic timing of the parade helped revive attention around the movement, but it would take seven more years of protests, demonstrations and other tactics before the 19 th amendment, which grants women the right to vote, was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920.

While women are guaranteed the right to vote under the Constitution, they are still fighting for protections under the Equal Rights Amendment, which was originally proposed in 1923 and has yet to be passed, but has made a recent resurgence that may eventually lead it to passing.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Aug. 28, 1963
Washington, D.C.

About 250,000 people gathered near the Lincoln Memorial to voice their outrage against racial inequalities and the violent attacks of civil rights protestors at Birmingham, Alabama. It was at this march that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, which 3,000 members of the media were present to capture.

The idea for the march was actually born 22 years earlier in 1941 when civil rights leader and labor unionist A. Philip Randolph sought to organize a march that called out Black people’s exclusion from jobs created by World War II and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. A day before the march was scheduled, Roosevelt met with Randolph and issued an order banning discrimination against workers in government and defense jobs. He also established the Fair Employment Practice Committee to investigate racial discrimination in hiring practices and jobs. Five years later the committee was dissolved, and Randolph revived the idea for the march.

Years later, King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference were planning a march for freedom, and Randolph and leaders from the NAACP were planning a march for jobs. The two groups joined forces for the 1963 march, after which King and other civil rights leaders discussed the need for a strong civil rights bill with President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. This led enaction of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it, along with the Selma-to-Montgomery, Alabama, marches, also led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Stonewall Riots

June 28 to July 3, 1969
New York

In the 60s, raids on local gay bars and harassment to patrons by the New York Police Department were common. But when officers raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village on the morning of June 28, 1969, members of the LGBTQ community had enough and resisted. Protests began that same morning and continued for six days, marking a monumental moment that has inspired decades of activism within the LGBTQ+ community.

Prior to Stonewall, there were no legal protections for the LGBTQ community, and since 1952 being gay had been listed as a mental illness in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

Leaders for the Stonewall Riots, including gay-liberation activists and drag queens Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, formed organizations, such as the Gay Liberation Front, after the event that pushed for policy changes and social inclusivity for the LGBTQ community. One year after the historic riots, the first Christopher Street Liberation Day march, which is named after Stonewall Inn’s location, was organized in New York and other U.S. cities. This march would lead to a rise in annual Pride events worldwide. In 1973, the psychiatric association removed homosexuality from its diagnostic manual.

Since the ‘90s, the Supreme Court has established several landmark rulings that have put protections in place for and removed discriminatory laws against the LGBTQ community. These include decriminalizing homosexual behavior, legalizing gay marriage and, as recently as June 15, making it illegal to fire employees for their sexual orientation or gender identities.

Occupation of Alcatraz

Nov. 20, 1969, to June 11, 1971
San Francisco Bay, California

In 1934, the U.S. government began using Alcatraz Island to house prisoners before closing the island’s prison in 1963. The following year, it was declared a federal surplus property and soon thereafter Native American activists began occupying the island, citing the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, an agreement that states Native Americans could claim unused federal lands.

In November 1969, 89 members from Indians of All Tribes began living on the island and continued their protest for 19 months. Their initial demands were to build Native Indian institutions on the island, partly due to a fire a month prior that destroyed the San Francisco Indian Center, which helped provide jobs, health care, legal aid, and other opportunities. While on Alcatraz, the protestors, which included 400 people at its height, lived without running water, phone service and, for some time, electricity. Some Native Americans spoke out and said these, and worse, conditions were already in place on reservations.

U.S. authorities forcibly ended the occupation in June 1971 when police and federal agents removed the 15 remaining protestors. And while the initial demands were not met, the protest brought attention to the Indian Termination Policy, which began in the mid-1940s. That was series of laws and policies that aimed to abolish Native American tribes and culture in order to forcibly assimilate them into American society, making them tax-paying citizens and removing federal and state exemptions they were granted. During the Occupation of Alcatraz, President Richard Nixon ended the policy in 1970 and the publicity around the event led to a new policy of self-determination for Native Americans.

The March for Our Lives

March 24, 2018
Washington, D.C., with other protests led worldwide.

On Feb. 14, 2018, 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, were killed by a former student who opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. The tragedy marked a turning point in years of calls for gun-control legislation and led to the March for Our Lives the next month.

The march in Washington, D.C., was organized by students who survived the shooting and gathered 800,000 people. Affiliated protests across the United States brought the total national turnout to an estimated 1.2 million to 2 million. There were also other protests held around the globe.

Before the Stoneman Douglas shooting, Florida’s gun laws were some of the weakest in America. But in March 2018, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act was passed by the state legislature and implemented changes such as raising the minimum age for gun purchases from 18 to 21, increasing waiting periods until background checks clear or three days, whichever is longer, among other measures. Florida, along with 16 other states and Washington, D.C., have enacted red-flag laws, which allow for the temporary removal of firearms if someone poses a danger to themselves or others. Bump stocks, which increase firing power of semiautomatic weapons, also have been banned nationally.

Telegramgate Protests

July 14 to July 24, 2019
Puerto Rico

After years of sluggish progress to recover from Hurricane Maria and many more years of alleged corruption within the Puerto Rican government, a scandal involving the island’s governor and his staff led to national outrage and calls for resignation.

On July 13, 2019, hundreds of pages of messages between Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and his staff containing racist, homophobic and vulgar language to ridicule politicians, journalists and celebrities were publicly leaked. The messages, which were sent through the Telegram messaging app, also stated they would use the media to target political opponents. Days before the leak, the island’s education secretary and the head of the health were arrested by the FBI on corruption charges.

Rosselló publicly apologized soon after, and said he would not resign, although members of his cabinet did. On July 14, 2019, protests began outside his home and continued for weeks as police guarded the home and often used tear gas. The protests spread and intensified, even resulting in a shutdown of a major highway and a strike across the island.

On July 24, 2019, Rosselló announced his resignation effective Aug. 2 of that year. On Aug. 7, 2019, Wanda Vázquez Garced became governor of Puerto Rico.

1. Boston Tea Party, 1773

The Boston Tea Party was one of the earliest documented protests in America. Back when America consisted of 13 British colonies, the tax on imported goods like paper, tea and paint was extremely high. To protest this tax, several colonists snuck onto a British ship at night and dumped 340 crates of tea into the harbor. This act of protest sparked the American Revolution, which ultimately ended in America's freedom from British rule.

Here’s where the 8 biggest protests in U.S. history took place

How will this weekend’s demonstrations stack up against the marches of the past?

Washington D.C.’s National Mall during the Million Man March on October 16, 1995. Larry Downing/Getty Images

Saturday, January 21, will be far from the first time urban centers across the United States have played host to citizens mobilizing around a cause.

From the Civil Rights marches of the 1960s to protests against the Iraq War in 2003, our country has a long history of public and vocal civil disobedience. So how will the upcoming demonstrations stack up against the marches of the past? To find out, we’ve rounded up the cities and spaces where the country’s eight biggest protests took place.

Note: Calculating how many people participate in a public protest is a notoriously difficult task. Bias is inherently involved, from organizers who might exaggerate numbers to authorities who might downplay them. The list below uses popular estimates and, when available, provides a range and sources for estimates.

1. June 12, 1982: Anti-Nuclear March in New York City’s Central Park

Central Park in New York City, photographed June 12, 1982 during a protest against nuclear energy and calling for disarmament. Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images

Size: An estimated 1 million people

Known as one of the largest political protests in American history, an estimated one million people gathered in New York City’s Central Park to call for nuclear disarmament and an end to the arms race perpetuated during the Cold War. The park was shoulder-to-shoulder with people, and tens of thousands more filled the streets on the parade route from the United Nations and Dag Hammarskjold Plazas at 47th Street and First Avenue.

According to the New York Times, some protesters camped in Central Park ahead of the event, while dozens of buses parked in Queens to allow marchers to get to the park by subway. The park’s Great Lawn held a large stage where Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, and James Taylor performed.

2. October 16, 1995: Million Man March in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C.’s National Mall during the Million Man March. Larry Downing/Getty Images

Size: An estimated 850,000 people

Organized by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, the Million Man March gathered an estimated 850,000 people from across the United States at the National Mall in Washington D.C..

Under the backdrop of the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, attendees listened to prominent speakers like Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, and the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson.

The march is a good example of the difficulty in knowing how many people attend such gatherings: The National Park Service released an estimate of 400,000, while organizers believed that 1.5 to 2 million had attended the event. Boston University released an estimate of 837,000 people with a 20 percent margin of error. After the Million Man March, the Washington D.C. Park Police stopped making official crowd size estimates.

3. April 25, 2004: The March for Women’s Lives in Washington D.C.

Protesters take part in the 'March For Women's Lives' on the Mall in Washington. Stephen J. Boitano/Getty Images

Size: Estimates range from 500,000 to 1.15 million people

A demonstration in support of reproductive rights and women’s rights, the March for Women’s Lives traveled through downtown Washington and along Pennsylvania Avenue. Organizers claim that 1.15 million people participated in the march, which would make it the largest protest in U.S. history. The Associated Press estimated that between 500,000 and 800,000 people attended the event.

The march marked the first large-scale abortion rights demonstration in Washington since 1992, and also featured notable figures like Whoopi Goldberg, Madeleine Albright, and Gloria Steinem.

4. February 15-16, 2003: Anti-war protests in America’s biggest cities

Protesters carry an inflatable globe during an anti-war demonstration on February 15, 2003, in New York City. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Size: At least 500,000 people

Known as the biggest protest in world history, roughly 10 million to 15 million people marched on the same day in more than 600 cities to protest the war in Iraq. In the United States, an estimated 300,000-400,000 people rallied in New York City, packing the streets north of the United Nations headquarters and filling police-barricaded protest zones for more than 20 blocks.

Elsewhere, anti-war rallies were held in 150 U.S. cities, from smaller towns like Austin, Texas—where 10,000 protestors marched down Congress Avenue from the state capital building—to more than 200,000 people marching in San Francisco.

5. October 25, 1997: Million Woman March in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Approximately 300,000 African-American women pack the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the Million Woman March on October 25, 1997, in Philadelphia. TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images

Size: Estimates range from 300,000 to 1 million people

Estimates vary wildly on how many people attended 1997’s Million Women March, but all agree that the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania were packed. Marchers began with a sunrise service at the iconic Liberty Bell, then walked along Benjamin Franklin Parkway to a speaker’s tent and podium located at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The march was organized by two Philadelphia grassroots activists—Phile Chionesu and Asia Coney—had a huge turnout despite short notice and rainy weather. It’s estimated that 125,000 women came from Chicago and New York to march in Philadelphia.

6. November 15, 1969: Anti-Vietnam protest in Washington D.C.

The U.S. Capitol looms in the background as thousands of people march along Pennsylvania Avenue during anti-Vietnam Moratorium on November 15, 1969. Bettmann/Getty Images

Size: Estimates range from 500,000 to 600,000 people

Following a general strike on October 15, the Vietnam Moratorium Committee organized a second event for November 15, 1969. Now considered one of the largest anti-war protests in American History, 500,000 people gathered across from the White House to demand that President Richard Nixon end the war.

Protesters also organized a March Against Death immediately before the November 15 march. At this event, 40,000 people walked in single file silently down Pennsylvania Avenue, holding a sign with the name of a dead American soldier or destroyed Vietnamese town. The protesters then placed their signs in coffins laid out in front of the Capitol building.

The November protests were part of a series of protests and marches around the world in 1969. The Vietnam War continued, however, for six more years, ending with the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.

7. April 25, 1993: March on Washington D.C. for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation

Marchers from Missouri walk the streets of downtown Washington D.C. during the March for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation. Mark Reinstein/Getty Images

Size: Estimates range from 300,000 to 1 million people

This 1993 march in Washington D.C. brought together hundreds of thousands of Americans demanding freedom from discrimination and an end to the military’s ban on LGBT people serving openly. The march route traveled from the 52-acre Ellipse park past the White House and finished at the Mall.

Organizers said that a million people participated in the event, but the United States Park Police claimed only 300,000 protesters were there. One of the event’s most memorable events occurred when hundreds of men and women under the banner of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis of New York lay down in front of the White House. The act symbolized the number of AIDS deaths in America.

8. October 11, 1987: Second National March on Washington D.C. for Lesbian and Gay Rights

The AIDS Memorial Quilt of the Names Project Foundation on display on the National Mall in 1987. Names Project Foundation

Size: Estimates range from 200,000 to 750,000 people

Sometimes referred to as “The Great March” thanks to its size and historical importance, this 1987 march organized hundreds of thousands of people to demand more federal money for AIDS research and for an end to discrimination.

Previous examples of large scale protests after presidential elections in the US?

After the elections there were many news reports of large-scale, mass protests throughout the US, for example:

Many more can be found on Google.

However, I cannot find news records of mass protests after the previous Obama or Bush elections.

Is this just an example of the media playing the news up, or is this actually the first time in recent history that mass protests have been organised against the new president immediately after the election?

Thank you for the answers and I like the answer by Timothy about the Abraham Lincoln election (which I will most likely select as the right answer unless there's a better one) but I was hoping to know about such protests happening in recent times (let's say after the 1950s, or if not, after the 1900s, if we need to specify a time frame), for reasons of unpopularity of the winning candidate. I was looking for something other than the answer given by John because protests against Bush were due to allegations of fraud in the election itself, while the current protests are due to the elected person being who he is. I am looking for similar cases.


Organizers Edit

On November 9, 2016, the first day after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, [36] in reaction to Trump's election campaign and political views, [c] [38] and to his defeat of presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Teresa Shook of Hawaii created a Facebook event and invited friends to march on Washington in protest. [4] [39] [40] Similar Facebook pages created by Evvie Harmon, Fontaine Pearson, Bob Bland (a New York fashion designer), Breanne Butler, and others quickly led to thousands of women signing up to march. [41] [42] [43] [44] Harmon, Pearson, and Butler decided to unite their efforts and consolidate their pages, beginning the official Women's March on Washington. [41] To ensure that the march was led by women of differing races and backgrounds, Vanessa Wruble, co-founder, and co-president of Okayafrica, served as Head of Campaign Operations and brought on Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour to serve as National Co-Chairs alongside Bland. [41] [45] [5] Former Miss New Jersey USA Janaye Ingram served as Head of Logistics. [46] Filmmaker Paola Mendoza served as Artistic Director and a National Organizer. [47] [48]

During "the first hours of the first meeting for what would become the Women's March," Mallory and Perez allegedly put forward a debunked antisemitic conspiracy theory regarding Jews and the slave trade. No one who was in the room spoke about it for almost two years. Mallory and Bland deny that the offensive content in the conversation took place, but, according to Tablet Magazine, "multiple sources with knowledge of what happened confirmed the story." [49] [50] [51] Several journalists who shared the story were emailed by a PR agency which claimed to be able to disprove the article, but would only share their information on condition of journalists keeping it off the record. Andrea González-Ramírez, a journalist from Refinery29, claimed to have agreed to the PR firm's request, but the PR firm's fact checking failed to disprove Tablet Magazines claims. [52] [53] [54]

According to The New York Times, opposition to and defiance of Trump infused the protests, [55] which were sometimes directly called anti-Trump protests. [56] Organizers stated that they were "not targeting Trump specifically" and that the event was "more about being proactive about women's rights". Sarsour called it "a stand on social justice and human rights issues ranging from race, ethnicity, gender, religion, immigration and healthcare". [6] [57] Wruble stated that "it's about feminism […] But it's about more than that: It's about basic equality for all people." [58]

Planned Parenthood partnered with the march by providing staff and offering knowledge related to planning a large-scale event. [59] Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said that the march would "send a strong message to the incoming administration that millions of people across this country are prepared to fight attacks on reproductive healthcare, abortion services and access to Planned Parenthood, [which] hopes that [in the future] many of the protesters will mobilize in its defense when Trump and congressional Republicans make their attempt to strip the organization of millions in federal funding". The national organizing director stressed the importance of continuing action at a local level and remaining active after the event. [6]

National co-chairs Edit

Vanessa Wruble, co-founder, brought on Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour to serve as National Co-Chairs alongside Bob Bland. [41] [45] [60] The four co-chairs were Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York Tamika Mallory, a political organizer and former executive director of the National Action Network Carmen Perez, an executive director of the political action group The Gathering for Justice and Bob Bland, a fashion designer who focuses on ethical manufacturing. [6] [7] Gloria Steinem, Harry Belafonte, LaDonna Harris, Angela Davis and Dolores Huerta served as honorary co-chairs. [8] [61]

International Edit

Seven women coordinated marches outside the U.S. The women were: Brit-Agnes Svaeri, Oslo, Norway [62] [63] Marissa McTasney, Toronto, Canada [64] Karen Olson, Geneva, Switzerland [65] Kerry Haggerty, London, United Kingdom [66] Rebecca Turnbow, Sydney, Australia [67] and Breanne Butler and Evvie Harmon in the United States. [68] [69] The women organized the international marches through social media and had weekly Skype meetings to plot strategy. [68] [66] [69]

Policy platform Edit

On January 12, the march organizers released a policy platform addressing reproductive rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, religious discrimination (primarily that against Muslim Americans), [70] LGBTQ rights, gender and racial inequities (primarily those that favor men and Non-Hispanic whites, respectively), workers' rights, and other issues. [1] [2] "Build bridges, not walls" (a reference to Trump's proposals for a border wall) became popular worldwide after the Trump's inaugural address, [71] [72] and was a common refrain throughout the march. [73]

The organizers also addressed environmental issues: "We believe that every person and every community in our nation has the right to clean water, clean air, and access to and enjoyment of public lands. We believe that our environment and our climate must be protected and that our land and natural resources cannot be exploited for corporate gain or greed—especially at the risk of public safety and health." [2]

Name origin Edit

Originally billed as the "Million Women March," Wruble renamed the event [74] to mirror the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the historic civil rights rally on the Mall where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. [47] [75] The rally also paid tribute to the 1997 Million Woman March in Philadelphia, in which hundreds of thousands of African American women are said to have participated. [76]

Logistics planning Edit

Because of scheduling conflicts at the Lincoln Memorial, [77] a permit was secured on December 9 to start the march on Independence Avenue at the southwest corner of the Capitol building and continue along the National Mall. [78]

By January 20, 2017, 222,000 people had RSVP'd as going to the Washington, D.C., march and 251,000 had indicated interest. [79] [80] On January 16, 2017, Fox News reported that authorities were expecting "a crowd of almost 500,000 people", [81] and the permit for the march issued by the National Park Service was revised by the head of D.C.'s Homeland Security department to half a million people [82] —significantly more than the estimated attendance at President Donald Trump's inauguration ceremony the previous day. [83] [84]

Partnerships Edit

In late December, organizers announced that over 100 organizations would provide assistance during the march and support the event across their social media platforms. [85] By January 18, more than 400 organizations were listed as "partners" on the March's official website. [86] [87]

On January 13, event organizers granted the anti-abortion feminist group New Wave Feminists partnership status. But after the organization's involvement was publicized in The Atlantic, it was removed from the partners page on the march's website. [91] Other anti-abortion groups that had been granted partnership status, including Abby Johnson's And Then There Were None (ATTWN) and Stanton Healthcare, were subsequently unlisted as partners as well. New Wave Feminists and Johnson still participated in the official march, alongside other anti-abortion groups such as ATTWN, Students for Life of America, and Life Matters Journal. [d]

While organizers had originally expected over 200,000 people, [93] the march ended up drawing between 440,000 [94] to 500,000 in Washington D.C. [95] The Washington Metro system had its second-busiest day ever with over a million trips taken, considerably larger than the inauguration day's ridership and second only to the first inauguration of Barack Obama. [96] The New York Times reported that crowd-scientists estimate that the Women's March was three times the size of the Trump inauguration, which they estimate at 160,000 attendees. [93] However, The Washington Post and The New York Times have stated that it is difficult to accurately calculate crowd size [97] [98] and other estimates of the Trump inauguration range from 250,000 to 600,000 people. [99] [100]

An estimated 3,300,000 – 4,600,000 people participated in the United States [10] and up to 5 million did worldwide. [11] [12] [27]

Packed cars, buses, airplanes, and trains commuted protesters to the march. The large crowds enabled Washington's Subway to break 1,000,000 passengers for only the second time in its history. The 1,001,613 trips are the second busiest day, the highest counted total (as the highest, from Obama's First Inauguration is only an estimate) and the highest single-day ridership for a weekend day breaking the previous record of 825,437 trips set during the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. It was also reported that over 45,000 disabled people in attendance, led by the organizing efforts of disability justice activist Mia Ives-Rublee. [101]

Washington, D.C. Edit

Speakers Edit

Steinem commented "Our constitution does not begin with 'I, the President.' It begins with, 'We, the People.' I am proud to be one of thousands who have come to Washington to make clear that we will keep working for a democracy in which we are linked as human beings, not ranked by race or gender or class or any other label." [6]

Ferrera stated, "If we – the millions of Americans who believe in common decency, in the greater good, in justice for all – if we fall into the trap by separating ourselves by our causes and our labels, then we will weaken our fight and we will lose. But if we commit to what aligns us, if we stand together steadfast and determined, then we stand a chance of saving the soul of our country." [108]

Johansson called for long-term change: "Once the heaviness [of the election] began to subside, an opportunity has presented itself to make real long-term change, not just for future Americans, but in the way we view our responsibility to get involved with and stay active in our communities. Let this weight not drag you down, but help to get your heels stuck in." [108]

The youngest presenter at the Washington D.C. march, 6-year-old Sophie Cruz, said, "Let us fight with love, faith, and courage so that our families will not be destroyed," and ended her speech saying, "I also want to tell the children not to be afraid, because we are not alone. There are still many people that have their hearts filled with love. Let's keep together and fight for the rights. God is with us." Cruz repeated her speech in Spanish. [109]

Alicia Keys performed at the rally saying, "We are mothers. We are caregivers. We are artists. We are activists. We are entrepreneurs, doctors, leaders of industry and technology. Our potential is unlimited. We rise." [110] Angela Davis said, "We recognize that we are collective agents of history and that history cannot be deleted like web pages." Maryum Ali also spoke, saying, "Don't get frustrated, get involved. Don't complain, organize." [108]

Other U.S. locations Edit

Across the United States, there were a total of 408 planned marches. [11]

International Edit

Marches occurred worldwide, with 198 in 84 other countries. [11] [28] Organisers of the event reported 673 marches worldwide, including 20 in Mexico and 29 in Canada. [13] Women in India also organized a nationwide march on January 21, 2017, called I Will Go Out to demand access to safe public spaces. It was held in small countries such as Belgium, Costa Rica, Latvia. [111] The movement also took place in countries in Africa, including Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania all held marches calling for women to have equal rights, and specifically demanding an end to violence against women. [111]

Participation by well-known people Edit

Political figures Edit

U.S. Senator Cory Booker, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson attended the Washington march. [112] [113] [114] Anne-Marie Slaughter, president of New America and former Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department, attended the New York City march. [115] John Lewis attended the Atlanta rally, which saw more than 60,000 march to the Georgia State Capitol. [116]

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont delivered a speech at the march in Montpelier in front of the Vermont State House, as did other Vermont political figures, such as former Governor Madeleine Kunin and current Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman. [117] Both Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey participated in the Boston Women's March, [118] along with Mayor Marty Walsh.

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand since October 2017, gave a speech after marching in Auckland New Zealand was chronologically the first country in the world to participate in the march. [119] [120]

Additional celebrity participation Edit

In San Francisco, performer and activist Joan Baez serenaded the crowd with "We Shall Overcome" in Spanish. [143] Comedian Colin Mochrie and Actress Eliza Dushku attended Boston's march. [137] Singer Carole King was among 30 residents rallying in Stanley, Idaho. [144] Author Stephen King participated in a march in Sarasota, Florida. [145] Singer Kacey Musgraves [124] and comedian Chris Rock [146] were both present in Nashville, Tennessee. Seth Rogen tweeted video from New Orleans. [147] Actor Rami Malek was present in Paris, France. [148]

Pussyhat Project Edit

The Pussyhat Project was a nationwide effort initiated by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, a screenwriter and architect located in Los Angeles, to create pussyhats, pink hats to be worn at the march for visual impact. [149] In response to this call, crafters all over the United States began making these hats using patterns provided on the project website for use with either a knitting method, crocheting and even sewing with fabrics. [150] [151] The project's goal was to have one million hats handed out at the Washington March. [151] The hats are made using pink yarns or fabrics and were originally designed to be a positive form of protest for Trump's inauguration by Krista Suh. Suh, from Los Angeles, wanted a hat for the cooler climate in Washington, D. C. and made herself a hat for the protest, realizing the potential: "we could all wear them, make a unified statement". [152] One of the project founders, Jayna Zweiman, stated "I think it's resonating a lot because we're really saying that no matter who you are or where you are, you can be politically active." [151] Suh and Zwieman worked with Kat Coyle, the owner of a local knitting supply shop called The Little Knittery, to come up with the original design. The project launched in November 2016 and quickly became popular on social media with over 100,000 downloads of the pattern to make the hat. [153] [149]

The name refers to the resemblance of the top corners of the hats to cat ears and attempts to reclaim the derogatory term "pussy", a play on Trump's widely reported 2005 remarks that women would let him "grab them by the pussy". [154] [155] Many of the hats worn by marchers in Washington, D.C., were created by crafters who were unable to attend and wished them to be worn by those who could, to represent their presence. Those hats optionally contained notes from the crafters to the wearers, expressing support. They were distributed by the crafters themselves, by yarn stores at the points of origin, carried to the event by marchers, and also distributed at the destination. [156] The production of the hats caused reported shortages of pink knitting yarn across the United States. [157] [158] [159] [160] On the day of the march, NPR compared the hats to the "Make America Great Again" hats worn by Trump supporters, in that both represented groups that had at one point been politically marginalized both sent "simultaneously unifying and antagonistic" messages and both were simple in their messages. [161] Pussyhats were featured later on the fashion runway, [162] and on the covers of Time and The New Yorker.

Signage Edit

In Richmond, Virginia, attendees of the March on Washington participated in an "Art of Activism" series of workshops at Studio Two Three, a printmaking studio for artists in Scott's Addition. [163]

In Los Angeles, actor Amir Talai was carrying the sign "I'll see you nice white ladies at the next #blacklivesmatter march right?" to express frustration at the lack of participation by white Americans in the Black Lives Matter movement, and simultaneously hopeful of encouraging them to do so. The photo of Talai with the sign went viral over the internet. [164]

In January 2020, the National Archives acknowledged that it altered photographs of the Women's March on Washington, blurring the word Trump in a sign that reads, "God Hates Trump" and another that reads, "Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women" as well as other placards that referenced parts of a woman's anatomy. A spokesperson for the National Archives explained that the censorship was designed to avoid politicizing the event and to protect children and young people who might see the signs. [165]

Academics Edit

While the march aims to create a social movement, Marcia Chatelain of Georgetown University's Center for Social Justice commented that its success will depend on the marchers' ability to maintain momentum in the following weeks. "One of the goals of any type of march or any type of visible sign of solidarity is to get inspired, to inspire people to do more. And the question is, at the march, what kind of organizational structures or movements will also be present to help people know how to channel their energy for the next day and for the long haul?" [166] Historian Michael Kazin also commented on the importance of a long-term strategy: "All successful movements in American history have both inside and outside strategy. If you're just protesting, and it just stops there, you're not going to get anything done." [166]

In the aftermath of the protest, museum curators around the world sought to gather signs and other cultural artifacts of the marches. [167]

Politicians Edit

Many members of the U.S. House of Representatives announced that they would not attend Trump's inauguration ceremony, with the numbers growing after he made disparaging remarks about veteran House member and civil rights leader John Lewis. Some of them said they would attend the Women's March. [168]

Maine Representative Chellie Pingree said she would instead visit a Planned Parenthood center and a business owned by immigrants on Inauguration Day before going to Washington to appear on stage with other politicians who refused to attend. "We need to do everything we can to let the incoming administration know we are not happy about their agenda. I've had unprecedented numbers of my constituents calling me worried about healthcare, the environment, public education, and they feel disrespected," she said. [169]

On January 22, 2017, Trump wrote on his personal Twitter account: "Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly." Two hours later, he sent a more placatory tweet: "Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views." [170] [171] A White House official criticized the March for not welcoming abortion rights opponents, and then criticized Madonna's comment that she "thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House". [172]

Senator Bernie Sanders, who attended the March in Montpelier, Vermont, said Trump should listen to the protesters: "Listen to the needs of women. Listen to the needs of the immigrant community. Listen to the needs of workers. Listen to what's going on with regards to climate change . Modify your positions. Let's work together to try to save this planet and protect the middle class." [173] [174]

Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, offered her support on Twitter, calling the march "awe-inspiring" and stated "[I] hope it brought joy to others as it did to me". [175]

Following a tweet that offended other lawmakers and the public, Bill Kintner resigned from his position as Nebraska State Senator. [176]

John Carman, a Republican official in South Jersey mocked the Women's March, asking if the protest would "be over in time for them to cook dinner". He lost the next election on November 7, 2017, against a political newcomer, Ashley Bennett. [177]

The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which is associated with the Social Democratic Party of Germany, had planned to give their human rights award to the 2017 Women's March. After a German Jewish organization, however, protested in an open letter, [178] accusing the organizers of antisemitic statements and ties to antisemites, the foundation put the award on ice. [179] [180]

Celebrities Edit

Apart from the celebrities present at the march, others such as Beyoncé and Bruce Springsteen made statements of support for it. [181] The latter, who endorsed Hillary Clinton and is a friend to Barack Obama, gave a speech during a concert in Australia, saying, "The E Street Band is glad to be here in Western Australia. But we're a long way from home, and our hearts and spirits are with the hundreds of thousands of women and men that marched yesterday in every city in America and in Melbourne who rallied against hate and division and in support of tolerance, inclusion, reproductive rights, civil rights, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, the environment, wage equality, gender equality, healthcare, and immigrant rights. We stand with you. We are the new American resistance." [182] [183]

Cyndi Lauper commented on Madonna's controversial speech at the Washington march, saying, "Anger is not better than clarity and humanity. That is what opens people's minds. When you want to change people's mind, you have to share your real story." [184]

Jon Voight called the march "destructive" and said it was "against the president and against the government". He was particularly critical of Shia LaBeouf and march participant Miley Cyrus, saying "they have a lot of followers" and felt their stances were "teaching treason". [185]

Piers Morgan, a friend of Trump's, stated the march was a reaction by women that "a man won" and that "At its core, it was about Trump-hating and resentment that he won and Hillary lost". He also felt that it was democratic to protest, but not due to the result of a democratic election. In response to Morgan's comments about the march, Ewan McGregor canceled his appearance on Good Morning Britain, which Morgan was hosting. [186]

Following the march, the organizers of the Women's March on Washington posted the "10 Actions for the first 100 Days" campaign to keep up the momentum from the march. [34] The first action included contacting senators about concerns, with an option of using "Hear Our Voice" postcards. [187] A new action was provided every 10 days. [188]

Filmmaker Michael Moore called for 100 days of resistance, for Trump's first 100 days of his presidency. [189]

In July 2017, the Women's March official Twitter feed celebrated the birthday of Assata Shakur, an African-American on the FBI most wanted terrorists list who was convicted of murder, leading to criticism from conservative media outlets. [190] [191] [192] [193] In an August 1, 2017, editorial, Bari Weiss criticized three co-chairs for their association with Louis Farrakhan, and for failing to reject anti-Semitism. [194] In a reply letter, co-Chair Bob Bland dismissed critics as "apologists for the status quo, racist ideology and the white nationalist patriarchy". [195]

In October 2017, leaders of the decentralized Women's Marches across the country formed a new organization, March On, and launched a Super PAC called March On's Fight Back PAC. [196] Led by Vanessa Wruble, one of the co-founders and chief architects of the Women's March on Washington, March On announced the goal of creating political change through their "March on the Polls" campaign, including marching people to voting booths for the November 2018 midterms for a "March on the Midterms". [197] "March on aims to coordinate actions at the federal, state, and local level. [198]

On January 21, 2018, a second Women's March was held, taking place in cities around the world. [199] [200] Demonstrations were also held in 2019 and 2020.

The 2017 Women's Marches took place in many cities around the world since January 21, 2017.

This march was organized to protest the Reagan administration. Organized by the the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the largest US union federation, the protest gathered 260,000 people critical of the government policies, particularly planned cuts to social programs.

Eight years after the first LGBT rights march, a crowd double the size gathered in DC. The march sought to end discrimination against gay citizens. The march also demanded funding for AIDS research and therapy. With an epidemic that seemed relentless, the disease had already killed nearly 20,000 people, and the Reagan administration’s response seemed inadequate. According to the organizers’ estimates, the attendance was at least 500,000 people.

Large Protetests Held In US - History

By NIKKI WENTLING | Stars and Stripes | Published: August 15, 2019

WASHINGTON — While hundreds of thousands of demonstrators converged on Washington in November 1969 to show their growing disdain for America’s involvement in Vietnam, Sgt. Grant Coates was bunkered in the Commerce Department with his fellow soldiers, peeking out windows to catch glimpses at the activity outside.

Coates was a squad leader with the 6th Armored Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Meade, Md., one of the units assigned to riot duty during the weekend of Nov. 15, 1969, when about 500,000 people gathered in the capitol for what’s believed to be the largest antiwar protest in U.S. history, called the Moratorium March.

The protests in Washington, and around the country, were building as the Vietnam War ground on. Students for a Democratic Society staged the first major anti-war rally in Washington on April 17, 1965, with about 20,000 people attending the orderly event.

Fast-forward to 1969, and the historic November rallies were part of a string of demonstrations that took place around the world, with groups from San Francisco to Boston and London petitioning for peace. Thousands of others involved in the antiwar movement joined affiliated protests in cities and on college campuses across the country, including a march through San Francisco that attracted 30,000.

The weekend of the march, Coates was one of the only service members on riot duty who had served in Vietnam.

Coates volunteered for the Army, having felt an obligation to the country. When he returned to the U.S. from Vietnam in September 1969, he was reassigned to Fort Meade.

Fifty years later, Coates, now 70 and living in upstate New York, recalls that Moratorium March weekend in detail. His squad remained inside the Commerce Department, adjacent to the National Mall, waiting to be called to help local police if the protest got violent.

“We had observers on the tops of the buildings reporting in on what they were seeing,” Coates said. “Those of us not on the roof were stretched out in the hallways, sleeping in our combat boots with our gear next to us so we could be ready to get into formation.”

A security force of 40,000 police and troops guarded Washington that weekend, and almost all of them — like Coates — were hidden from public view, United Press International reported.

Police were expecting a crowd of 100,000 for the demonstration. It was planned by the Vietnam Moratorium Committee, which had held other massive demonstrations against America’s involvement in Vietnam. Afterward, police conservatively estimated 250,000 had joined the protest. Based on that number, newspapers dubbed it the “biggest peace demonstration in the nation’s history.”

Later, the estimate would climb to 500,000. The Washington protest was the focal point of the weekend.

About 1,000 protesters an hour moved from Arlington National Cemetery to the White House and then onto the Capitol “in a march against death,” The Associated Press reported at the time. Many of them carried placards with the names of service members who were killed in action in Vietnam, or the names of Vietnamese villages that had been destroyed.

Demonstrators heard speeches from antiwar politicians and performances by Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger and the group Peter, Paul and Mary.

Throughout it all, President Richard Nixon remained in the White House.

“The Nixon administration reaffirmed that its Vietnam policy would not be determined by marchers on the streets and asserted its course continues to have the support of most Americans,” the AP reported.

Coates also remained inside — his squad was never called into action. The demonstration was mostly peaceful except for a small section of the crowd that violently protested near the Justice Department on the evening of Nov. 15.

Demonstrators threw rocks, bottles and paint bombs, smashing windows and splattering the building with red paint. UPI described the protesters as “Yippies” and “shouting, paint-throwing extremists.” The clash resulted in police using tear gas on the crowd.

From the windows of the Commerce Department, Coates intermittently spotted clouds of tear gas. His squad slept in their masks because gas had filtered into the building through the air-conditioning system, he said.

Early Nov. 16, when most of the crowd had dispersed, his squad left the Commerce Department.

“I remember it was a clear day the morning we left,” Coates said. “We could still feel the tear gas. Anytime there was a breeze, the crystals would blow off buildings and streets, burning our eyes.”

Coates was 20 at the time, fresh off a combat tour in Vietnam, where he was part of the 76th Infantry Detach Combat Tracker Team. With a dog in tow, the team was tasked with establishing contact with enemy combatants.

Other service members on riot duty did not have combat experience. Some were part of Special Services, the entertainment branch of the military that included bands and baseball teams.

In their off-time, many wore peace paraphernalia and aligned themselves with the antiwar movement, Coates said. Before rolling into Washington, they had to be trained not to break ranks.

“I remember a lot of them saying, ‘I agree with the demonstrators. I’m not for the war, and I don’t want to go to Vietnam,’ ” Coates said.

“On the ride down, I told my squad, ‘You got to remember what you’re doing and protect yourself. These people don’t care that you like them. They see you as the government.’ ”

Coates witnessed the change in his squad as they traveled past protesters, some of whom shouted at them and threw things at their vehicles.

“They got hit abruptly with counterculture in their face, and they didn’t have much patience after that,” Coates recalled. “After about an hour on the road, these guys were yelling stuff out the window back at them.”

Reflecting on the attitudes at the time, Coates said people hadn’t yet separated individual service members from the government.

“Service members represented the government, and the agitation, the irritation — it was taken out on the service member,” Coates said. “My feeling was, carry your sign. Yell what you want, but don’t yell it at me. I’m not the one making the decisions.”

Over 1,000 Just Gathered for the Largest Felony Civil Disobedience Rally in US History

Olympia, WA — Over the weekend the largest felony civil disobedience rally ever held in American history took place. It is estimated that anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 well armed gun owners showed up to the state capital in Olympia to openly violate the unconstitutional gun law, i594.

The event’s organizer, who frequently appears on the Free Thought Project, Gavin Seim, made the extraordinary nature of the rally very clear,

“This isn’t just a protest. We are here to openly violate the law.”

On his website Seim explains the ominous nature of the legislation:

On Nov 4th 2014 a piece of legislation called i594 passed in Washington State (read text). It will make so much as handing a gun to a friend a felony. While this started here in Washington, it was funded by big out of State money and you are next.

Seim goes on to emphasize the importance of this day of resistance:

This stand is about all of America. It’s about public officials deciding if they will keep their oath, or support tyranny. It’s about us deciding if we will stand or allow liberty to be lost.

On Dec 13th we gather for the largest Felony civil disobedience rally in American history. Thousands are coming to stand at the capital in Olympia. This is not simply a protest. We will openly exchange, buy and sell and trade guns and start a plan to break apart this legislation and violate i594 in every possible way. Because ALL law that violates the Constitution is not law, it is VOID!

We the people will not tolerate this law. We will not bow down and lick the boots of tyrants, we will stand for the liberty of our children? We’re not waiting for politicians, judges or lawyers. Our birthright is NOT to be touched. We gather and we will affirm that liberty.

Original RSVP’s grew to over 6,000, so police decided that it would be in their best interests not to enforce the law. The Washington State Patrol announced there would be no arrests for exchanging guns – not even for selling guns.

Like the professional liberty flexing guru that he is, Seim refused to even obtain a permit to hold the rally, citing the right of people to peaceably assemble.

The sheer number of people that showed up, along with the attendance of lawmakers and even law enforcement, made this event hard to dismiss as a fringe group of people, “clinging to their guns.”

Despite there being over a thousand loaded weapons, the protest went off without incident. Washington State Trooper Guy Gill predicted beforehand, “Most of these folks are responsible gun owners. We probably will not have an issue.”

According to Townhall.com Another rally in Olympia is planned for January 15, and another one in Spokane on December 20. The Second Amendment Foundation, headquartered in Bellevue, intends to sue the state over I-594, and will be lobbying the legislature to get the law changed or repealed.

We commend Gav Seim’s efforts to organize such an amazingly powerful and effective protest. This is how change is sought, and made.

Milwaukee Is Home To One Of The Longest Youth-Led Mass Protests In U.S. History

By Aug. 28, 1967, Black Milwaukee had grown tired and frustrated. Tired of living in substandard housing, tired of their overcrowded neighborhoods and tired of economic inequalities in their city, the young Black members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Youth Council, the Commandos, and their adviser, Father James E. Groppi, joined forces with Alderwoman Vel Phillips. Together, they engineered a march to demand fair housing in Milwaukee.

And for 200 consecutive nights, they kept marching.

Fair housing in Milwaukee had been a primary concern for Black Milwaukeeans long before 1967. In the 1960s, the city of Milwaukee’s Black population was concentrated on the north side, which was colloquially referred to as the “inner core.” As Milwaukee’s Black population grew following World War II, and as manufacturing jobs began leaving the city, the inner core became overcrowded, and lax enforcement of the city’s building codes led to dilapidated housing.

Moreover, white landlords and homeowners outside of the inner core refused to rent or sell to African-Americans. “What would my neighbors think if I sold my home to niggers?” said one white homeowner to a then 19-year-old Prentice McKinney when he and his older brother, a Vietnam Vet, went to purchase a home for their mother.

Black people were essentially stuck in the inner core due to racist housing practices.

In 1962, Alderwoman Phillips, who made history in 1956 when she became the city’s first African-American ― and first woman ― to be elected to the Common Council, introduced a fair housing ordinance that would make it illegal to deny housing to African-Americans because of their race. Phillips hoped to put an end to racist housing discrimination through her fair housing ordinance.

The ordinance was voted down 17 to 1. Phillips was the sole vote in favor. The ordinance would continue to be voted down each of the three times she brought it up to the Common Council between 1962 and 1968.

By Aug. 28, 1967, Black Milwaukeeans, mobilized by their frustrations of living in a system where they lacked a political voice, took to the streets in peaceful protests. The first of 200 consecutive nights of marching began as 200 members of the NAACP Youth Council, the Commandos, Father James E. Groppi, Alderwoman Vel Phillips and at least 50 white parishioners from St. Veronica Church (on the south side, where Father Groppi had previously been an assistant pastor) marched from the predominately Black north side of Milwaukee to the predominately white south side of Milwaukee. The marchers were met by as many as 13,000 angry white counter-protesters, who hurled bottles, bricks, racial slurs and feces at participants. Archival footage from the marches capture how chilling and menacing the white backlash was to the peaceful protestors.

But intimidation tactics didn’t work. The marchers continued to demonstrate from late summer through Milwaukee’s brutal winter and into spring. The 200 th march took place on March 14, 1968. The participants suspended their marches at that point but later staged the largest of their marches after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., who had early in the movement sent a note of support to the marchers.

On April 8, 1968, 15,000 people marched for Dr. King, continuing their approach to nonviolent protesting on which their movement had been built. On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which had been influenced by the demonstrations in Milwaukee. And on April 30, 1968, the marchers achieved victory when Milwaukee’s Common Council passed the Fair Housing Ordinance that made housing discrimination in the city of Milwaukee illegal.

The March on Milwaukee (Aug. 28, 1967 through April 30, 1968) remains a radical act of civic participation. Radical because the marchers exercised a dynamic principal: the sustained engagement in public and peaceful protest by the city’s most overlooked population ― the poor, Black and/or young people of Milwaukee.

Despite the radical nature of the marches, this era of the city’s history has been almost erased from the local and national consciousness. The erasure has been both physical and metaphorical, as the physical buildings most important to the struggle for open housing, such as St. Boniface Parish , were torn down. As a current local organizer and community member, Adam Carr, has stated, it is as though the city suffers from a “collective amnesia.” The marches have been collectively forgotten and with them the radical legacy of Black, poor, and youth-led organizing in our city. This collective amnesia is unsurprising when one remembers that Milwaukee continues to be the nation’s most segregated metropolitan area.

Fifty years later, the anniversary of the March on Milwaukee provides a time for the city to both recognize and reignite the spirit of the original marches ― to build the Milwaukee that we need, one that is fair, collaborative and racially just. We’re doing so through our celebration called 200 Nights of Freedom , a community-based initiative of 200 consecutive nights of free public programs inspired by the original spirit of the marches. 200 Nights of Freedom is the central program of the March on Milwaukee 50 th Anniversary Celebration, and it is fundamentally a means of recognizing the past so that we can reignite our present-day community’s commitment to justice and equity.

Recognition: The Dreams of Our Elders

As a person raised by Haitian and Yoruba elders, I have been told throughout the course of my life the importance of respecting one’s elders. Respecting elders is not just about giving deference to “old people.” It is fundamentally an act of honoring history and experiences: the accumulated lessons of those who have come before us. Indeed, honoring one’s elders puts into practice the familiar and transcultural adage that in order to know where you’re going, you have to know where you come from. What better place to learn then from the feet of our elders?

When I joined the March on Milwaukee 50 th Anniversary Coordinating Committee in June of 2016, I had no idea learning at the feet of the elders meant I would become a privileged keeper of both their stories and, in some ways, their failed dreams. Over the course of learning about the history of the marches, I and the other “young” (i.e., those born after 1968) members of the coordinating committee have had a chance to experience what historian Manning Marable referred to “living Black history,” to place Black historical narratives at the center and to, consequently, see how these histories can and have shaped the course of Milwaukee’s past, present and future.

Witnessing the living Black history of the original marchers has often meant learning details about the marches from original marchers and coordinating committee members, such as NAACP Youth Commandos Prentice McKinney and Fred Reed, NAACP Youth Council member Dr. Shirley Butler and Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Rozga, who married Father Groppi after he left the priesthood. I learned some of the marchers, like current Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore, snuck out of their bedroom windows in order to participate in the movement. Or that my own husband’s grandmother, Juanita Adams , who marched for fair housing and the desegregation of Milwaukee Schools while six months pregnant, pushed her body against the pouring spout of a cement truck to prevent the building of a segregated school.

However, I have also learned that despite the fact a fair housing ordinance was passed by the city of Milwaukee, many of these original marchers look at the world 50 years later and wonder what, if anything has changed. Wisconsin leads the nation in Black male incarceration .

With regard to fair housing, as Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Brian Sonderman noted on a panel on housing rights in Milwaukee , Black home ownership in Milwaukee has never been more than 50 percent. Access to property means access to a political voice, says Prentice McKinney, a former leader of the NAACP Youth Commandos. But with our prisons filled with Black bodies and the tight grip of segregation and economic inequality that chokes the city’s most disenfranchised (Black and brown people), it is both understandable and heartbreaking to see that 50 years after Milwaukee’s “civil rights moment,” the city of Milwaukee still has much to learn from our past in order to build a brighter future.

Re-Ignition: 200 Nights of Freedom

In the world of 2017, where racist rhetoric has been normalized on the federal stage and where public and peaceful acts of protesting ― such as taking a knee during the national anthem ― have led to continued counter-protesting, the question remains: Is it still possible to build the Milwaukee (or, for that matter, the nation) that we all need?

The March on Milwaukee 50 th Anniversary Coordinating Committee charges: yes. However, that “yes” comes with recognizing the marches— with bringing the unknown and forgotten history to the fore so that it might reignite the spirit of activism in our city. The marchers are a testimony to what indigenous, grassroots, youth- and people of color-directed organizing can accomplish: effective change and radical humanizing of Black and brown people on the local and national level.

200 Nights of Freedom builds on the stamina of 200 consecutive nights of marching. It is a community-driven initiative of 200 nights of free public programs that are inspired by the spirit of 1967-1968 marches. 200 Nights of Freedom works to build the city that we need by challenging some of our most challenging present-day realities in Milwaukee: our hyper-segregation, our resultant “silo-ing” and the at times frustrating inability for community members to work collaboratively to achieve equity. In other words, 200 Nights of Freedom is a way for community members to see the work being produced in our city by amazing present-day organizers while daring themselves to cross the very viaducts and imagined borders that keep present-day northsiders (African-Americans) from connecting with present-day southsiders (now predominately Latinx) and area suburbs (predominately white).

Since we’ve kicked off on Aug. 28, 2017, we’ve seen an amazing mosaic of work contributed from our collaborators and partners across all areas of Milwaukee. Organizations new and old have seen the marches as a catalyst for their own work and honored the connections between activism led by youth and people of color, then and now. Organizations such as Urban Underground , an organization that works throughout Milwaukee, but especially in the Sherman Park area, to promote safe and sustainable communities through various youth-led social justice campaigns. Urban Underground has been instrumental and receptive to recognizing the marchers and using them to reignite their own causes, including arts-based activism in the form of silk screening workshops and T-shirt projects, as well as a recent publication called Youth Rise MKE . The organization Voces de La Frontera has been a vigilant leader in the fight for immigrant rights, including protesting against anti-immigrant bill AB190. Concurrently, the organization Uplifting Black Liberation and Community (UBLAC), a coalition of Black women, queer and trans people, have led Milwaukee’s own Black Lives Matter movement, promoting Black liberation through tools for self-sustainability and connection. Their efforts have spanned micro-community building events, such as potlucks, to massive efforts to organize citywide, including the Sept. 30, 2017 Black Women’s Empowerment March .

And these are just a few ways organizations in our city have been working and continue to work to realize the dreams of our elders. In their efforts to mobilize across the city’s historic boundaries and through youth-led, people of color, and women-centered paradigms, they are working to build the Milwaukee we need: not simply 200 Nights of Freedom, but freedom and equity for the generations that have yet to come — those who will inherit this city and its organizing history.

We are still at the beginning of our initiative. However, we’re excited to see how the community will continue to respond to the prompt and platform of 200 Nights of Freedom.



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