The peace sign originated when British anti-nuclear activists wanted to create a visual image for their movement. They chose to use symbols from the flag signaling alphabet, which were then incorporated into a circle representing the earth.
On Good Friday in 1958, anti-nuclear war activists took to the streets in London to protest the development of more nuclear weapons. The Direct Action Against Nuclear war committee and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Committee joined together and decided to create a "ban the bomb" emblem. Although the designers considered adopting the Christian cross, they eventually agreed that they needed something more representative of their cause. Eventually, they agreed on using the N and D from the flag signaling alphabet, which was intended to represent "nuclear disarmament".
The peace sign evolved, during the 1960s and 1970s, in the United States. Although the design was not changed, those associated with its creator decided to try and associate it with positivity as opposed to despair.
The sign became synonymous with various civil rights movements, including women's, environmental and gay movements. In addition, those who protested against the Vietnam War adopted the sign as an emblem of peace, with many painting it across their car. This led some to associate it with communism, although its overall message remained the same.