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Protests that Changed the History of Washington, D.C

Posted by 
Nya Crea
Nya Crea
 25 days ago

One cannot deny the significance of protests in American history, most of which have set a precedent for other nations across the world. From Anti-racism protests to protests against gun control, the goal has been one thing; change. Like-minded people from different walks of life have come together to express their objection to certain societal issues through their constitutionally granted rights.

These are some of the protests that will never be forgotten in the history of Washington.

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Million Man MarchPhoto of the first million man march from Atlanta Black star

The driving force behind this protest was the level of racism and violence against the black community. They had the highest rate of unemployment and imprisonment across the country. Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan was the principal organizer of the protest and he was assisted by Reverend Chavis Jr. The biggest challenge was organizing a protest of this size. Local stakeholders and communities were involved making it very diverse.

On October 16, 1995, hundreds of thousands of black men showed up at the National Mall in Washington and the event lasted for ten (10) hours. There were zero fights or violence, just thousands of black men simply being. On the day of the protest, President Clinton got on Air Force One all the way to Texas and gave a speech on race relations. The result of this protest was a decrease in the high school dropout rate and an increase in voter’s registration of black men.

March for Women’s Lives

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Photo of the march for women’s lives from Obama White House Archives

On April 25 2004, thousands of women and their families came out with a shared vision.  Originally called the March for Freedom of choice, it was renamed in order to reflect a broader set of demands. They came out to advocate for sex education for the youths, information and access to contraceptives. The March also aimed at comprehensive health care and education opportunities for women. It took place at the National Mall in Washington with approximately 1.4 million people in attendance.

National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gays Right

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Photo from Black enterprise

Inspired by the March On Washington For Jobs and Freedom led by Martin Luther King in 1963 and galvanized by the assassination of the country’s first gay elected official Harvey Milk in 1978, organizers of the march connected smaller LGBT groups and encouraged them to show their support for the rights of the community by demonstrating as a unified voice in Washington.  The welcome program of the March was written by Allen Young.

The march started at the National Mall and proceeded towards the White House. Many demands made during the protests have still not been met to this day. However, the National March on Washington For Lesbian and Gay Rights was not seen as a failure. The LGBT community established a large network of members across the country, unified around a single set of priorities. Additionally, the public display of the LGBT community’s size and support forced the country to recognize how many people identified as LGBT or an ally.  To put it plainly, the National March on Washington For Lesbian and Gay Rights gave a significant part of the structure from which 21st-century public LGBT promotion and activism was assembled.

Million Mom March

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Photo from the Salt Lake Tribune

On August 10 1999, a white supremacist opened fire at the Granada Hills JCC Center in Los Angeles wounding five people. This prompted Donna Dees Thomases and Amy Putman to launch the Million Mom March. The rally was aimed at gun prevention and was the largest and most publicized in American history. It was held in 2000 on mothers’ days at the National Mall with an estimated attendance of 750,000 people. In a few months after the rally, the Million Moms March established more than 200 chapters.