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March On: 6 Protests That Have Changed the World

The First Amendment guarantees the right of the people to peaceably assemble, but what causes people to march and rally?


Today's practice of protesting comes in many forms—from marches to boycotts and rallies—but how do they get started?

While most protests arise for several specific reasons, they all start with a disagreement. Whether they're protesting a recent event, policy change, or systemic inaction, protesters make a stand by peaceably interrupting the way things are. A series of PBS interviews with protesters found that most are driven by an extreme need for policy change to bring about equality.

One of the first protests in American history can be traced back to The Boston Tea Party. As the people protested the increased tax on tea, they demonstrated their negative attitudes toward the change by dumping the imported tea into the harbor. This protest resulted in the tea tax being repealed, but it also set a precedent for the right to peaceably assemble that was later incorporated in the Constitution.

The key word of the first amendment being to peaceably assemble. In the times of various demonstrations, tensions run high and physical conflicts may arise. For this reason and several others, protests have not always ended in a favorable result, but some are more successful than others.

Here are some of the most influential protests in the world.

1. Montgomery Bus Boycott
A boycott was led to bring attention to and hopefully lessen racial segregation. The protest ended with an Alabama district court ruling that racial segregation was unlawful, and the case made its way to the Supreme Court where the ruling held its ground.

2. Tree Sitters of Pureora
People in New Zealand protested the deforestation of an area that included trees that were 1,000 years old. Participants stayed in the trees and built tree houses to prevent any more trees from being cut down. The movement was successful and the area was later turned into a park.

3. March on Washington
Martin Luther King organized a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. demonstrating anti-segregational views. The result was the beginning of civil rights legislation being drafted.

4. Berlin Wall
Following the end of WWII, Germany was divided into parts and a wall was contstructed to keep people from East Berlin from crossing into West Berlin. Following many years of separation, people began to publicly protest the division in large numbers, and the wall came down just two months later.

5. Women's Suffrage Parade
Women marched soon after the election of President Woodrow Wilson to demonstrate their desire for the right to vote. This parade set the tone for the women's suffrage movement and really set the movement in motion.

6. Black Lives Matter
This movement has been an ever-present force in the news. Stemming from the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, this organization has been active in various locations across the nation and a common phrase in society as well as on the news. According to, the movement "is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society."

No matter what issues call you to protest, it's important to exercise your right and respect the rights of others. Get to the streets and march on!

The above video is part of We the Voters, a groundbreaking social impact campaign designed to inspire and activate millions of young Americans through 20 viral films hosted by actors and influencers. The project incorporates real characters, dynamic story lines and celebrity influencers to demystify how the government and elections work and motivate Americans to seize their power by voting in the 2016 elections. For more information, and to see the rest of the films, visit We the



Alisha Humiston

Alisha is a student at Iowa State University. When she isn't in class or writing for More you can find her watching New Girl, planning her next adventure, or eating way too much cheese. One day she hopes to get her own joke printed on a Laffy Taffy wrapper.

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