Protests and Riots in History That Led to Systemic Changes in America
Protests and riots erupted in the U.S. following the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes. Recently, both peaceful and violent demonstrations have occurred in many American cities, where some properties have even been destroyed.
As the nation watches the chaos unfold, some people have expressed confusion about the protests or don’t believe the events can actually make a difference. However, protests have served as a traditional way for Americans to stand up to abuse, hate and inequality and to achieve change. The U.S. has an intense history of carrying out pivotal protests, with some demonstrations leading to violence or destroyed property. Here are some key protests and riots in history that led to systemic changes in America.
The Boston Tea Party
Unfortunately, the destruction of property isn’t new during a protest. In fact, one iconic rebellion saw a loss of $1,000,000 in property, yet it was called an act of heroism. On December 16, 1773, more than 100 men boarded ships and dumped 90,000 pounds (45 tons) of tea into Boston’s harbor to protest Britain’s policies of "taxation without representation."
The 1913 Suffrage Parade
The journey to women’s suffrage was long, difficult and violent in the U.S. On March 3, 1913, the first major event to fight for women’s right to vote took place in Washington, D.C. — the 1913 Women's Suffrage Parade. Led by Jane Addams, Alice Paul, Anna Howard Shaw and the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the massive parade drew thousands of women.
The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot in San Francisco
Before the famous Stonewall Riot, there was the Compton's Cafeteria Riot of 1966, a historical event now known as the first LGBT uprising in American history. For years, the San Francisco Police Department abused and victimized transgender women and drag queens in the Tenderloin District, who were often forced to engage in sex work to survive. It was also a crime to cross-dress at the time.
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963
In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom — one of the most famous and massive protests in American history. The protest took place in front of the Lincoln Memorial, where 250,000 demonstrators marched and called for the end of systemic racism and inequality.