- For over a week, tens of thousands of Americans have taken to the streets to fight against police brutality and racism.
- Following the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a white police officer, protests to support the Black Lives Matter movement have popped up in all 50 states. Demonstrators are demanding an end to systemic racism and violence against Black Americans.
- This most recent wave of action reflects a long-stand history of Americans protesting to enact change. Here are 20 photos that chronicle some of that legacy.
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Tens of thousands of Americans have been marching in the streets daily, demanding an end to police brutality and racism.
Following the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd — let alone the countless others who have been overlooked — Americans have come together to fight for the Black Lives Matter movement and combat racial injustice.
This latest example of collective activism marks a longstanding history of Americans protesting for change.
In the early 1900s, women took to the streets to demand the ability to vote; during the civil rights movement hundreds of thousands of people marched against racism; and in the late 1960s, the Stonewall riots catapulted LGTBQ rights to the mainstream.
In more recent memory, the Women’s March on Washington swelled to a half-million people after President Trump was elected. Throughout the past few years, rallies related to immigration, LGBTQ rights, and other issues have continued to pop up in cities around the country.
The recent wave of action for the Black Lives Matter movement is the latest in a long history of American activism. Here are 20 photos that chronicle some of that legacy.
In 1917, ten suffragists, who called themselves the “silent sentinels,” were arrested when they picketed outside the White House. The women’s suffrage movement is considered one of the first modern activist movements.
Source: Library of Congress
The labor movement, which also grew in the 20th century, fought for safe working conditions and increased pay and benefits for laborers.
Source: History Channel
The civil rights movement, which began in 1954, aimed to end racial inequality, segregation, and discrimination.
At the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which drew approximately 250,000 people, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
In one of three marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, protesters joined together in response to the voting obstacles and threats of lynching that African Americans faced in the South.
Universities have historically been breeding grounds for contemporary activism. Starting in the early 1960s, many college students protested in opposition to the Vietnam War…
Source: Business Insider
… which helped spark a mainstream anti-war movement.
Source: Business Insider
In 1982, around a million people filled New York City’s Central Park to protest nuclear weapons during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
Source: Business Insider
The 1969 Stonewall riots catapulted the LGBT rights movement into the mainstream. Activists led three days of protests after the NYPD raided Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood.
Though the environmental movement started in the 19th century, it gained more mainstream appeal in the mid-20th century. The US celebrated its first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.
Around the same time, the disability rights movement began. Activists worked to end disability discrimination and institute more accessibility regulations.
With the PC boom in the ’90s, protesters started leveraging the internet as a mobilization tool — though some efforts have been more successful than others. MoveOn.org, founded in 1998, was one of the first online platforms that allowed users to make petitions, fundraise, and organize marches.
Today, many activists use Facebook and Twitter to organize around issues.
When the HIV/AIDs epidemic hit in the ‘80s and ‘90s, LGBT rights activists urged the federal government to fund research and treatment. The Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights drew around 200,000 people in 1987.
Source: The New York Times
The modern women’s rights movement, which began with suffrage, has since expanded to address reproductive rights, sexual violence, a lack of educational opportunities, and the wage gap. The March for Women’s Lives took place in Washington DC in 2004.
Source: National Organization of Women
In 2013, the Black Lives Matter movement was established following the police killing of 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin. After the officer who killed Martin was acquitted, the movement took stronghold and people demanded an end to police brutality against Black Americans.
Source: Black Lives Matter
In 2016, people started staging sit-ins at Standing Rock, an Indian reservation where the Dakota Access Pipeline is slated to be built. The protests are part of the Native American rights movement, which began in the early 19th century after President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal policy.
In recent years, many activists have adopted the notion of intersectionality, which acknowledges the intersections of racism, sexism, class, homophobia, and more in the dynamics of power and oppression.
The idea was prevalent in the Women’s March on Washington. “Women’s rights are human rights, regardless of a woman’s race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age or disability,” its organizers wrote.
Activists are still marching to make their voices heard, and many acknowledge that today’s protests are built on the work of past generations.
For more than a week, tens of thousands of Americans have taken to the streets to continue fighting for the Black Lives Matter movement. The killing of George Floyd and the persistent issue of police brutality against black Americans has led to widespread protests and urgent demand for change.