Here, we look at some of the most impactful protests and movements that changed the course of history.
By Reya Mehrotra
From the violent US Capitol riots that jolted the world and the George Floyd protests for equality to the anti-CAA and farmer protests in India, protests have seen many forms in recent times. Here, we look at some of the most impactful protests and movements that changed the course of history.
A series of uprisings and anti-government protests spread across the Arab world in the 2010s. It was a movement in response to the oppressive regimes and started in Tunisia. The protests then spread to Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria with riots, insurgencies and civil wars. The pro-democracy protests led to regime changes in some of the protesting countries but for some countries, the period since the Arab Spring has been marked with oppression and instability.
The Dandi March was one of India’s most significant protests in the fight for freedom. It is also called the Salt Satyagraha. It took place from March to April in 1930. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, the act of civil disobedience was undertaken by Gandhi in which he marched from Ahmedabad to the Arabian Sea Coast, a distance of 240 miles, followed by thousands of Indians to break the salt law. The protest was based on Gandhi’s principle of non-violence.
The Orange Revolution
The Ukranian presidential election of 2004 in which Leonid Kuchma was cleared to be appointed for the third term led to the Orange Revolution. Kuchma endorsed Viktor Yanukovych who emerged the leading opposition candidate. When Yanukovych’s health began to fail, it was revealed that he was poisoned allegedly by the Ukrainian State Security Service. When he was declared the winner, his opponent Yushchenko’s supporters staged mass protests known as the Orange Revolution.
Boston Tea Party
The political and commercial American protest was organised by the Sons of Liberty, a revolutionary organisation in the Thirteen British Colonies on December 16, 1773. It was against the Tea Act that was passed in the same year which allowed the British East India Company to sell tea in American colonies without paying taxes. In protest, an entire shipload of tea was thrown into the Boston Harbour. The event marked one of the first major rebellions against the British colonisers eventually leading to the American Revolution.
The decades-long fight of women to win the right to vote in the US is what is called the Women’s Suffrage movement. Activists and reformers fought for almost a century to win the right. The campaign first begun in the 1820-30s when all white men had gained the right to vote. At the same time, what was to be a woman and a citizen of the US was being rethought. On August 18, 1920, the US Constitution was finally amended to enfranchise all American women, like the men, the right to vote and all other rights.
A day after the inauguration of US President Donald Trump, a worldwide protest started on January 21, 2017, due to his statements that were marked as anti-women and offensive. The main protest took place in Washington, DC and is known to be the largest single-day protest in US history. It is estimated that approximately 1-1.6% of the US population participated in the protest.
Storming of the Bastille
This event marked the beginning of the French Revolution of 1789. Bastille, a royal fortress and prison of the Bourbon monarchs, has become a symbol of dictatorial rule. It was stormed into by Parisian revolutionaries on July 14, 1789. Major historic events took place post the event, including a violent decade full of political turmoil in which King Louis XVI was overthrown and was executed along with his wife Marie Antoinette.
Civil Rights March
The Civil Rights March in Washington occurred in August 1963 when 2,50,000 people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to draw attention to the inequalities and the challenges faced by African-Americans. The protestors also met the then President John F Kennedy and members of the Congress. The protestors stood non-violently for hours appealing for equal rights for them and all minorities. American civil rights activist Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech was delivered on the day, through which he appealed for an end to racism and civil and economic rights.