In US history, not the only form of our legal or historical bonds to historical events were caused by figures like George Washington, John F Kennedy, either one of the Bushes, or even Trump. There were always people who fought the system to change laws and add rights for the people going back to the bill of rights.
Some of the largest protest figures in US History are;
Susan B Anthony- Suffragette and abolitionist.
Alice Paul- suffragette who organized the 1913 march on Washington for Womens right to vote by going to jail and being force fed which led to future legislation.
John J Lewis and Julia O’Conner- Labor strikes in Coal Miners and Telephone operators which shut everything down in meat, steel and phone industries. Both achieved success and organized further after that protecting the rights of workers.
Thurgood Marshall- takes landmark case Brown v Board of Education 1952-1954. 347 U.S. 483 (1954) A segregation case of black and white schools in which the Supreme Court declared state law to be unconstitutional. It was a violation Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution. The case begins the rumblings of civil rights movement in mainstream America due to the integration and paved the way for Brown II, 349 U.S. 294 which pushed states to deliberate with all speed.
George Meaney- organized the merger of AFL and CIO labor organizations which allowed for the Steel works strike of 1959 and Teamsters union. Interesting man, huge civil rights activist and at the time unification a good thing.
David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair,Jr, Joseph McNeil- Greensboro Four- Four men who decided they were going to sit at the lunch counter in a Woolworth’s “white only” section, were service was refused to blacks. Due to lack of provocation by the students, the police could take no action. They stayed in place until the store closed and returned the next day with hundreds of students from the college. This spread to 55 cities in 13 states and got national media coverage for the treatment of African Americans. The 4 seats are in the Smithsonian Institute and this was considered one of the milestones of the civil rights movement.
Rosa Parks- most known for her refusal to give up a white bus seat, but was a member of the NAACP and active protest member with Martin Luther King jr.
Martin Luther King Jr- most known for Selma march in Alabama, I have a dream speech and civil rights amendment work with Lyndon B Johnson.
Malcolm X- did not believe in the treatment of Blacks by Whites, was a Black muslim and lead many pushes for equal rights during the civil rights movement. Very radical for his time.
Specific mention- People in the late 60s and 70s in large protests of Vietnam War –including the disastrous Kent State University shooting of unarmed students. To many names to mention.. Hanoi Jane probably most notorious. But it was the people on the street my sister used to tell me that made a difference.
Fred Fray- ACCD, first protests in Washington DC for the disabled. This group was active in 70s and 80s
Wade Blank and Michael Auberger- founders of ADAPT from Denver Colorado, a disability group that began by obstructing bus traffic with their disabled bodies for equal access to ride the bus, to equal right for the disabled to date. The have fought and won several key pieces of legislation for or against. Including blocking healthcare legislation in Washington DC in July. Groups like this have pushed to enact the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and further 2008 amendments to that Act.
The women and eventually men who through 1967 through the 80s protested continually for Womens Rights, the ERA which gave women rights to legal equality at workplace was enacted in 1972 but laws were weak. Gloria Steinem, Susan Bownmiller and Kate Millett were key voices for the movement. To this day there are a variety of women’s organizations that march and protest legislation some of which I work with. NARAL being one of them.
Larry Kramer- Act Up- an Aids information and action group formed for working to push the government into Aids research. Their largest rally was in 1988 and they shut the FDA down.
Louis Farakon- Million Man March, Washington DC-leader of nation Islam encourages unification of African American community. Ideal from Grandfather to father to son of unity in community.
MoveOn.org- Protests in 2002 and 2003 against Iraq War and President Bushes actions taken for same. At that time some of the largest historical crowds on record. The second or third marches were done worldwide in almost every country in opposition to the actions of President Bush. I partook in this march and am an active member of Moveon.
Multiple groups in US for immigrations rights -2006 against legislation known as HR 4337 which blocked citizenship of undocumented Latino immigrants. The protests took place all over the US in 102 cities and numbered over 1 million people.
Adbusters and New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts (16 Beaver Street) Occupy movement- 2011 to object to battered economics and like issues in a passive way.
Georgia Sagri- on August 2, 2011 she hijacks the Occupy movement and pushes it to a full blown movement that occupies NYC in the tower area. In full protest of the government treatment of Wall Street. On October 15th that year the protest went global. There are still chapters in every US city. I am a member of this organization.
Ladonna Brave Bull- in 2016 established a camp for the preservation and spiritual resistance to the pipeline. As we know this became a full blown protest with off duty military personnel joining in the protest and building facilities. There were 300 North American Native flags planted and this exceeds any Native American protest in history.
Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour- the organizers of the January 21, 2017 Woman’s March, what is considered the largest March in US history, with marches occurring in solidarity in cities through the world. (second only to protest against Iraq war- which I also took part in) This as a pro-rights rally for woman to stand for the largest group of people in the US. I partook in this march. This enacted the state to state protests that are currently taking place to change legislation protecting health rights across America. Michael Moore, Mark Ruffalo and other actors are often involved with the protests now, specifically with healthcare.
These are only some of the major marches that have pushed agenda or further protests and movements. Each step is another push in the right direction for the people. There are so many more, Net Neutrality @ the FCC, The Dark money protests that take place frequently as far up as the Supreme Court, the healthcare bills –either way that take place at the Capital. So many more. These people push to make changes in laws or even keep protections in place for even the most basic of things for the American people and the things they take for granted.
Whether you agree with it or not, it is an essential and legitimate part of World History. People have died to protect the rights of others against government oppression. They are sometimes seen as the outliers in history but I believe some of them are true heroes whether they protest in the streets or are working within the legal system, they have made significant changes to history.