12 Protests That Changed History

12 Protests That Changed History

The incredible power of people.
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A democracy is defined as "a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system." That means that ultimately, the power lies with the people. We the people have been given a voice in the government and we have the right to exercise that voice in order to create change. This change manifests itself most powerfully when multiple voices come together in opposition to something in the form of protests or marches.

The problem is that as humans, we're pretty adverse to change. It can be scary to stand up for something when everyone around you is telling you that you will fail. For as many people that stand up to call for change, there are twice as many people telling them to sit back down again. But without change, we would never grow. As our former president wisely said, "I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours."

Protests unite people. Protests raise awareness. Protests demonstrate the incredible power of ordinary people. They give a voice to the voiceless and hold government forces accountable for their actions. So the next time you're feeling powerless against the administration, or the next time you scoff at another protest on the news, remember some of the men and women that came before you and shaped the course of history with their voice. You can thank some of these movements, marches, protests and rallies for the rights that you have today.

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.

2. March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 1963

In one of the most famous speeches in American history, Martin Luther King Jr., backed by 200,000 supporters that turned out to the Lincoln Memorial, protested the racial inequality that was keeping African Americans from having the same rights as whites. After his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963, MLK met with President Kennedy to discuss new legislation to remedy these issues.

The movement is credited with building support for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects against discrimination based on gender, race, color, religion, or ethnicity. It also banned segregation in businesses. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits racial discrimination in voting and successfully removed many barriers that states had used to keep African Americans from voting in elections.

3. Women's Suffrage Parade, 1913

In 1913, 8,000 marchers, accompanied by nine bands, 20 floats, and four mounted brigades, gathered in Washington D.C. the day before Woodrow Wilson's inauguration to fight for women's right to vote. It was the first suffrage parade of its kind. Though it took seven more years, the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920, which gave women the right to vote.

4. The Monday Demonstrations, 1982-1989

What started as a weekly prayer meeting turned into a movement that helped bring down the Berlin Wall. In 1982, a German pastor started a weekly prayer service on Mondays to spread the message of peace in the middle of the ongoing Cold War.

Soon, people from all ages and religious backgrounds began seeking weekly sanctuary in his church. A dozen people grew to thousands of people, despite German officials' efforts to blockade the streets around the church. Right before the wall came down, around 300,000 peaceful protestors gathered on a Monday in late October of 1989. One week later, the Berlin Wall was knocked down, reuniting West and East Germany.

5. The Temperance Movement, 1800s-1920

Though the Temperance Movement seems ridiculous today, it was actually quite a powerful and historically significant movement. The idea behind the movement was that by prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol, societal crime rates would go down and overall health would improve.

Many different groups lobbied and rallied under the name of the Temperance Movement until the 18th Amendment was passed in January of 1920. The Prohibition lasted for about 23 years until it was repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933- which you can thank Anti-Prohibition protestors for.

6. Gandhi's Salt March, 1930

India was still under the oppressive control of the British in 1930. At this time, Indians were prohibited from making or selling salt (a staple in the Indian diet) on their own under the Salt Act and were instead forced to buy it at high prices from the British.

Mohandas Gandhi decided to march with about a dozen people to the coast to make sea salt, which he figured would be a nonviolent way to defy the British and release India from their control by breaking the law. Tens of thousands of people ended up joining his march, and under Gandhi's guidance, India was able to break free from British rule in1947.

7. March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation, 1993

In 1993, over 800,000 people marched on the National Mall for the rights of the LGBTQ community. They were seeking anti-discrimination laws that would protect citizens from being discriminated against based on sexual identity and an increase in funding for AIDS research. The march helped gain national social recognition for the LGBTQ community. Since then, same-sex marriage has been legalized and great strides have been made in regards to studying and finding a cure for HIV/AIDS.

8. Protestant Reformation, 1517-1685

The Protestant Reformation is a poignant reminder that sometimes all it takes is one spark to start a fire. Martin Luther is widely credited for being the spark that started the Protestant Reformation, a movement that completely upended the Catholic Church and changed the way that people practiced religion on a global scale. One man's voice, in the form of the list of "95 Theses," was enough to create an entirely new religious sect (that literally has the word "protest" in its name).

9. Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Protest, 1911

In 1911, 146 workers were killed by a fire in an unsafe factory. At the time, workers often dealt with extremely hazardous working conditions. The tragedy prompted a march on New York's Fifth Avenue of nearly 80,000 people. This march helped to pass new laws to ensure workplace safety and helped the growing union movement. This eventually led to laws that we still use today, like the minimum wage requirement and the right to collectively bargain as a union.

10. Abolitionist Movement, 1830-1865

The goal of the Abolitionist Movement was to end slavery and racial discrimination. It took off in the 1830's and persisted for nearly 40 years. The abolitionists faced constant resistance and opposition from the government, states, and fellow citizens that eventually grew into the Civil War. Finally, in 1965, the 13th Amendment was passed to abolish slavery.

11. The Anti-War Movement, 1967-1972

There is some debate as to whether this movement actually helped to end the Vietnam War, but there's no denying the cultural and social significance of the anti-war protesting that happened in the late 60s and early 70s. At first, the protests started in general opposition to the war in Vietnam. But in 1971, when the Pentagon Papers were leaked to the press, the mood shifted. The Pentagon Papers contained about 7,000 pages worth of information on the war that the government had been trying to cover up, which made people angry. This set the precedence for the people's general mistrust of the government and reinforced the important role of the press to deliver the truth to the people.

12. The Storming of the Bastille, 1789

One of the more violent protests in world history, the Storming of the Bastille occurred in July of 1789. Tired of being ruled by a harsh monarchy, the French people stormed a state prison on the east side of Paris that had become a symbol of the government they despised. A violent battle ensued, which ended in the murder of the governor. This attack marked the beginning of the French Revolution, which ultimately led to the replacement of the monarchy with a republic government. The French still celebrate Bastille Day every year on July 14.

Cover Image Credit: WIki Media

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No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.
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In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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I Joined A Gym And This Is What Happened

Three weeks ago I made the decision to take better care of myself, for better or for worse.

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Three weeks ago I made the decision to take better care of myself, for better or for worse.

Like many people, I'm notoriously known for jumping on the health and weight loss bandwagon and sticking it out until it gets hard. It would last a few days to a few weeks but never really much more than that. My trips to the gym would dwindle into non-existence. Where was the accountability? What was keeping me going besides a shadow of my high school self?

It's a frustrating, endless cycle that ends only in depreciating my self-esteem.

Three weeks ago, that cycle stopped.

A friend of mine tagged me in a post promising custom meal plans, fun workouts, accountability, and best of all—results. To be honest, this initially sounded like another one of the thousands of gimmicks thrown at consumers every single day. However, my friend went to a consultation, and the more she told me, the more I became hooked.

The gym we joined is a small, family-owned business dedicated to helping people lead healthier, happier lives. They believe in building you up while teaching you to be healthier—in and out of the gym. The price tag almost scared me away, but part of their challenge is that if you reach the weight goal they give you, you either get your money back or can put it towards a gym membership after your six-week challenge.

After speaking with my family and friends, I decided this was the best decision for me right now, despite my current medical conditions. I was tired of the excuses and knew if I wanted results, obstacles would have to be worked around.

Week one was absolute hell.

Everyone was given a custom meal plan that, although straight and simple, is easy to stray from. The plan consists of several food options I would eat anyway when eating healthy, so that wasn't the difficult part. The hard part is everything not on the list. Week one shows you explicitly just how terribly you eat and drink. Week one reminds you of all those days you spent inside instead of exercising.

Week two was easier… and more satisfying. Cravings were still there, but they weren't as strong as the previous week. Even more rewarding, I had lost three pounds! My family could already see a difference in my body. I was performing exercises and eating foods I never expected myself to do or eat.

Week three was a giant curve ball I thought I had prepared for. My family went on a week-long vacation out of town, taking me away from the gym and the environment I had grown used to for this program. I decided I would continue to meal prep and utilize the at-home workouts the gym provided for us. I wanted to stay on top of the game. Things changed, however, when I got sick and was bedridden for the rest of the week. I couldn't eat, and I certainly couldn't move enough to work out. Whatever it was that hit me didn't leave for over a week.

I lost six pounds in four days, which wasn't the way I planned to lose that weight.

Going back to the gym this week was difficult. My morale was lower. Sure, I'd lost more weight, but it wasn't through the work I had signed up to do. I feared gaining it all back after being able to eat again. Working out is shaky at best due to being on a liquid and soup diet, but this time, I'm not giving up.

It's only week three, and I've seen more results in less than a month than I have in the last five years. I've never felt so empowered to treat myself well.

If anything, it's a lesson in challenging yourself. Don't hold yourself back; you may be surprised by the rewards.

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