4 of the Most Historic Protests in American History

By Audrey W. | Arcadia Staff
As a part of our nation’s democracy, citizens of the United States are guaranteed their right to use their voice to disagree with parts of society that they feel are unfair and unjust. Protests are an important first step toward starting a conversation that can result in a decision with everyone’s best interests at its core. Some protests achieved their goal after loud rallies and marches, while others took years to see any progress. Protests have proven themselves to be a fundamental part of American society. These are 4 of the most important protests in American history.

One of the many anti-Vietnam war protests.Anti-Vietnam War Protest
Washington D.C. - October 21, 1967

By November of 1967, the number of American deaths in Vietnam was over 15,000, with an estimated 109,000 injuries. What had started as small protests, erupted into one of the largest protests the country had ever witnessed. Roughly 100,000 protesters gathered around the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. to express their distaste with how the United States government was handling the conflict in Vietnam. That evening, 30,000 protesters continued the march around the Pentagon, resulting in a tussle with the U.S. Marshals where hundreds of protesters arrested.

Anti-Nuclear Weapon March
New York City - September 23, 1979

Throughout the 1970s and 80s, there were numerous gatherings to protest the use of nuclear power in the United States. The largest of these took place in New York City on September, 23 1979, where almost 200,000 people met. These uproarious moments resulted in the shutdown of Shoreham, Rancho Seco, Maine Yankee, and many other power plants across the nation. Anti-nuclear sentiments continued through the early 2000s, with a march in 2005 in front of the United Nations in New York City on the 60-year anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Protesters during the march on DC.March for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights
Washington D.C. - April 25, 1993

Organizers of this march estimated over 1 million people came out to show their support. Their demands were as follows: passage of legislation guaranteeing the equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, an increase in funding for AIDS research and treatment, rights to reproductive freedom, an end to racial and ethnic discrimination, and legislation to prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. 

March for Jobs and Freedom
Washington D.C. - August 28, 1963

 Where perhaps one of the most famous speeches in history was given, the March for Jobs and Freedom fulfilled its goal of getting President John F. Kennedy to create a civil rights bill. There were several reasons why this march was organized. The chief reason was to highlight the civil discrepancies between African American and whites, looking specifically at a narrow job market and few economic benefits for African Americans. At the peak moment of the event, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. After the march, MLK met with President Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson to discuss the need for both sides of the political aisle to come together and make real change.
Throughout American history, protests have been an outlet for Americans to convey their unhappiness and discontent. In some cases, these protests sparked political movement that made change. Perhaps more importantly, protests invite hope and inspire everyday citizens to take action.