Why do we protest?

Why do we protest?

Kenyatta Battle

“Why do we march for peace, mom?’ ‘For the same reason, that you and I plant a tree, her mother answered. We plant a tree for the future hoping the tree we plant today will make tomorrow a better place. That is why we march my love… because I feel this need to make the future better… to plant another seed. A seed of love and optimism… that one-day hate will cease… so your children or your children’s children will finally play in peace,’” a poem written by Jim Yerman.

Marching is as American as apple pie. Protesting has helped reshape this country, rather, it was demonstrations such as the March on Washington for civil rights, led by Martin Luther King Jr; the Suffrage Parade led by 5000 women, who spoke out for their right to equal political participation; or the march on Washington Lesbian Gay, Bi, Equal Rights and Liberation march on Washington, which had over 800,000 participants. Each one of these protests lead to a positive change in America.

In contemporary times, protesting is becoming prevalent again. Whether it is the “Times Up” protest, which took place at the 75th Annual Golden Globes, or the National Anthem Protest that was led by Colin Kaepernick (there have even been protests at universities around the country including UTSA). This rise in protesting has started to make some people ask the question “Why do we protest?” The answer is quite simple. The first reason we protest is to exercise our first amendment right, which is the right to assemble and petition the government. Exercising this right allows us to speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves.

Protesting also lets us reinvent our society. For instance, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation and outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin, was passed due in large part to various protests led by Martin Luther King Jr. These protests were the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Albany Movement, the three marches from Selma to Montgomery and others.

Another reason we protest is to spark conversation. Most people are unaware of various injustices that marginalized people face everyday; however, protesting brings attention to these troubling issues that we may otherwise never know about. For example, the “Me Too” and “Times Up” protests that took place at the Golden Globes brought further attention to sexual abuse of women in Hollywood and in other occupations. These protests were also able to empower women by encouraging them to stand up and fight back against their abusers.

The last reason we protest is to come together. Protesting brings millions of people from many backgrounds together to fight for one common goal, which usually is to help make the world a better place. That is why protesting is so important because it gives us a chance to end injustice and inequality. Barack Obama once said, “let us remember we are all a part of one American family. We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law, basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful protest.” Never be afraid to stand up for what is right. Even if someone hates you for it, you must always stand up against injustice even if you are alone.