10 Powerful Protests that Changed the Course of History

by Rajarshi Saha3 years ago

6 Students in Quebec abandoned their classes and started a protest against a 75% hike in tuition fees at universities and colleges in 2012. After months of peaceful and some violent demonstrations, the tuition fee hike was recalled by the minister.

Quebec protest
Montreal, Quebec, pots, and pans night protest against Bill 78 on 27 May 2012. Image credit: Gates of Ale via Wikimedia

In 2012, university and college students in Quebec skipped classes for their educational rights. The Quebec cabinet raised the tuition fee from $2,168 to $3,793 between 2012 and 2018. The new policy caused outrage among the students and led them to protest against the proposed tuition fee hike.

Since the 60s, low tuition rates have been promised to Quebec residents. But, for student protesters, a 75% increase in the tuition fee was a violation of the fundamentals of the education system, which fueled large demonstrations, and some of them were extremely violent.

Various organizations supported the movement, and many others protested along with the students. But, the government was in no mood to give up its plans as well.

On May 18, the policymakers in the power passed Bill 78, an emergency law, which forbids any kind of protest near university campuses. The United Nation and opposition parties strongly criticized the new law. After several months of demonstrations, Bill 78 was repealed in August 2012, and then on September 5, 2012, a tuition freeze announcement was made. (1, 2)


7 In 2019, thousands of women activists in Argentina protested in the capital for the legalization of abortion rights. In 2020, Argentina’s Parliament passed a law to make abortion legal in the country.

Thousands of women in Argentina came out onto the streets of Buenos Aires in 2019 to demand their abortion rights and denouncing violence against women.

Activists started the campaign known as “pro-choice” to push for the legalization of abortion procedures after it was narrowly defeated in 2018. Women of all ages participated in the demonstration by wearing green scarves symbolizing the abortion rights movement and purple for woman’s rights.

Protest for abortion and woman’s rights was not a new movement in Argentina. Activists were trying to legalize abortion for more than a decade in the country. But the movement has gained a bit of momentum since 2015.

Finally, in 2020, a new bill was introduced which legalized terminations in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy and made Argentina only the third nation in South America to pass this law. (1, 2)


8 In 1913, thousands of women came out on the streets of Washington, D.C to march against the authority for voting rights, and the marches became violent in the end. After seven years, the 9th Amendment was passed, which secured women’s voting rights.

Suffrage parade
Women’s Suffrage Parade. Image credit: usu

Women had been facing harsh rules and restrictions imposed by society for over a century in many countries, including the in the West. Voting rights was one of those restrictions. But women in Washington, D.C didn’t like those rules and marched against the authorities to make their votes count.

On March 3, 1913, thousands of women flooded the streets of Washington, D.C to demand their voting rights. An influential march, organized by Alice Paul from the National American Woman Suffrage Association, raised a voice for a constitutional amendment and staged an allegorical performance near the Treasury Building.

The parade was planned on the day before the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson to gather national attention. The demonstration was going according to the plan in the morning until the march came to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Thousands of spectators, dominated by men, started harassing the march attendees with violent behavior. A peaceful parade turned into a hostile situation and led to the hospitalization of hundreds of protesters. The event made headlines in the US media, but their demands were not fulfilled that year.

The success of those protests came after seven more years when the Ninth Amendment was passed in 1920 securing women voting rights. (source)


9 In 1993, Barbara Mikulski went against the typical female attire and wore pants in the Senate to demonstrate her protest against Senate rule.

Barbara Mikulski
Barbara Mikulski. Image credit: Politico

Barbara Mikulski is not only the longest-serving woman in the U.S Senate but also a women’s rights icon. Her small act of protest paved the way for women in various Senate positions.

During Mikulski’s time as a senator, pants were not part of the official female attire. The Maryland-based senator didn’t like this rule and decided to change the idea of what women should wear in the senate.

In 1993, she collaborated with her fellow senator, Nancy Kassebaum, and wore pants instead of a typical women’s attire. She even told other female staff to wear the same also.

Her small step was so impactful that the women’s dress code rules changed that very year. (source)


10 In 1956, 40,000 African-American bus riders boycotted the city buses in Montgomery to demonstrate their protest against the segregation laws of the city. On 5 June 1956, a federal court in Montgomery ruled in favor of the protesters, which led to the abolishment of the segregation laws.

Bus boycott
Rosa Park and the bus boycott. Image credit: wesleyan

In the 1950s, African-Americans were not considered equal to White people in many parts of the US. They had to deal with racism on a daily basis in various aspects of life.

But on December 5, 1955, the African American community in Alabama initiated a protest against the segregated seating law by refusing to ride city buses in Montgomery. The boycott which lasted until December 20, 1956, is considered as the beginning of protest against segregation laws in the US.

The entire movement started because of an African-American woman, Rosa Park, who did something really courageous.

While commuting on her way back from her job on Montgomery’s Cleveland Avenue bus, she refused to give up her seat to a White man, which was against the city law. Rosa was arrested for breaking the segregation law and fined $10. Later, E.D. Nixon, a renowned Black leader, bailed her out of jail.

The incident inspired approximately 40,000 Black bus riders to boycott the system on December 5 and later created a Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). The group continued their protest under the leadership of newly elected president, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Finally, On June 5, 1956, a Montgomery court ruled that the segregated seating arrangement violates the US constitution and needed to be scrapped. (source)

Also Read:
10 Interesting but Lesser-known Events From History

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