The Art of Protesting for Dummies

protestingMany have spoken negatively concerning the many protests that have taken place in recent history. From the Black Lives Matter movement to the recent #notmypresident marches against the newly inducted leader of the free world, protests have been a constant companion in today’s society. Despite the commonality of these marches in times past, it seems today America has forgotten the progress of those public outcries. Due to the harsh backlash received for these expressions of dissatisfaction, it is now time non-believers understood the art of protesting.

The art of protesting for dummies is written to encourage some and enlighten others. American people have a right to protest. The day these open declarations cease, Americans will have lost their will to fight, a desire to progress and the power of their united voices. Face it, far too often, in order for injustices to be heard a scene must be made. However, each demonstration has the potential to serve as a teaching tool for the public. Unfortunately, it seems protesting must be disruptive in order to get the necessary attention to invoke change.

Protesting helps drive narratives and plays an important part in the political, civil, social, economic, and cultural life of all societies. While many criticize the demonstrators as wasting time or whining about non-existent problems, the issues are very real to those affected who often feel the sting of these issues on a daily basis. Protests play an important part in the fiber of America.protesting

Historically, these public expressions have inspired positive social change and have been a channel for the advancement of human rights. Some question, while others doubt if protesting actually makes a difference.  Although it takes a while for the results to be witnessed, the answer is yes, they do. Change does not happen overnight. However, when people ensemble together, they have the power to make a difference.

There are many examples that prove throughout U.S. history protests have yielded real results. Instead of sitting on the sidelines criticizing, dummies must understand there is an art to protesting that is beneficial. Here are a few:

  • 1773 Boston Tea Party:  The Boston Tea Party was an act of defiance against British rule. Parliament, in efforts to assert dominance and punish the colonies, retaliated with The Coercive Acts in 1774 but it backfired. Instead, it pushed the soon-to-be Americans toward a war for independence.
  • 1688 Quaker petition against slavery:  Four Caucasian Quakers decided to protest against slavery.  These men started the process, but it took 92 years, many rounds of petitions and community presentations for the vision to be realized. Finally, in 1780, a Pennsylvania state law passed which gradually emancipated slaves.
  • 1955 Bus Boycott in Montgomery:  This movement began unintentionally with one woman. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white man. Consequently, she was arrested and fined. The black community joined forces and protested against public buses. Lasting 381 days, this defiant action forced the city to integrate its bus system. The cause also propelled Martin Luther King Jr. as a Civil Rights leader.
  • 1963 March on Washington:  Over 200,000 people marched through Washington bringing awareness to the issues that continually plagued black Americans. The march ended with one of the most powerful and widely recognized oratories of the country’s history… Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This protest is also credited with pressuring former President John F. Kennedy and Congress to take action in favor of the civil rights movement, leading to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • 1965 March in Selma:  In opposition of black voter suppression, Civil Rights leaders attempted several Alabama marches from Selma to Montgomery before being forced to retreat. On March 21, the activists tried once more. This time, with President Lyndon B. Johnson’s support and accompanied by the National Guard, they were victorious.  In August, the Voting Rights Act was passed, protecting black voters from discrimination and suppression.

Again, these are just a few of the many liberties credited to the art of protesting… just for dummies. The outcome may appear bleak, but voices united are powerful. Protests matter and provide the hope necessary to invoke change. Throughout history, the pattern has repeated itself. At times, these marches come with a few casualties before victory is realized.

Perhaps, the next time an ignorant person decides to criticize protesters who are demonstrating because of an implied injustice, they will pause and rethink their stance in lieu of history. Remember, it is senseless to challenge an art form that is foreign to another without attempting to first gain understanding. Protesting has plagued and protected citizens for years. Some were violent and others peaceful, but each one gained attention.

Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)


Daily KOS: Why Protests Are Important
Right to Protest: Why The Right to Protest?
The Aspen Institute: 7 Times That Protests Changed US History

Photo Credits:

Top Image Courtesy of Alek S. – Flickr License
Inline Image Courtesy of Joe Piette – Flickr License
Featured Image Courtesy of Alisdare Hickson – Flickr License

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