The massive Women's March in Washington D.C. that took place last month is only the most recent in many large marches that have taken place in the city in recent decades. These mass protest on the capital of the country have been mostly peaceful protests by citizens to express their discontent and desire to see change on a certain issue.
Five Largest Marches on Washington D.C.
Women's March on Washington
The Women's March on Washington is a prominent march that took place in Washington D.C. the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump on January 20. The idea to hold a march started the day after Trump was elected president with several women creating Facebook pages to have a march on Washington D.C., with thousands of women signing up. These women then came together to consolidate their Facebook pages, beginning the march effort which quickly grew with its social media presence. The march eventually gained national and honorary co-chairs, partnerships with over one hundred different groups like Planned Parenthood, Greenpeace, the NAACP and more. Because of the diverse groups that the march attracted, its platform covered many different important liberal issues, like women's rights, immigration, health care reform, religious discrimination and others. By the time the march took place it had become a worldwide event with an estimated 500,000 people in Washington D.C., another 4 million across America and 4.8 million people worldwide. The march had many notable and famous female speakers like Scarlett Johansson, Gloria Steinem and Kamala Harris among others. The march was successful with its ability to draw worldwide attention to the discontent many had with the new president.
National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam
Prior to the large march on Washington D.C. in November 1969, there were several protests in the years prior that culminated into one large protest. In April 1967 there was a march in New York, in October there was a march on the Pentagon and in August 1968 there were demonstrations in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention. In January 1969 there was a demonstration in D.C. to counter Richard Nixon's inauguration, which was the last protest of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam before it disbanded. Soon afterwords however the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, the Vietnam Moratorium Committee and the Student Mobilization Committee got together and organized the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam in October 1969, which was a nationwide event. Then a month later on November 15, 1969 these groups organized their next massive Moratorium in D.C. across from the White House, which was attended by an estimated 600,000 people. The large march had many performers and activists, like singer Pete Seeger and there was also a smaller 'March Against Death' rally that proceeded it during the previous two days. The large protest drew a response from President Nixon, who said it would not effect his decision on the war. The Vietnam War would rage on until 1975.
Million Mom March
The Million Mom March took place in Washington D.C. on Mother's Day, 2000. The rally took place in the National Mall of the capital, which was organized by the Million Mom March organization. It drew an estimated 750,000 people to D.C., with an estimated 200,000 people holding smaller marches in more than seventy different cities across America. The Million Mom March was a rally to advocate for stricter gun safety laws. This large protest began a few months earlier when a New Jersey mother saw news coverage of the Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting that had taken place in Granada Hills, California. She then joined together with some other Tri-State activists around the New York metropolitan area, where they announced their intent to march on the capital. The march was extremely successfully and following the event the Million Mom March organization decided to become chapter-based and then merged with the pro-gun control Bell Campaign. In October 2001 the Million Mom March merged with the well known gun control Brady Campaign and is still active in its chapters across the country today.
Million Man March
The Million Man March took place on October 16, 1995 and was also held on the National Mall of the capital. The march was called for by Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, and also involved the National African American Leadership Summit and many local chapters of the NAACP. It was inspired by a grassroots movement to place the issues of African-Americans at the forefront on the country's political agenda following the Republican Party's 1994 Congressional election victory on their Contract with America platform. African American leaders felt that the social and economic issues of the black community were being ignored by politicians, especially in the face of high unemployment, poverty and crime. The Million Man March was successful with an estimated 850,000 men attending the event, which was broken up into seven major speaking sessions over the day and featured the likes of Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Jesse Jackson, Cornel West and Martin Luther King III. Despite the support and success of the march it had several controversies since Farrakhan himself had stirred up religious controversy in the past, It also got a negative response from feminist groups who took issue with the all male event that excluded black women and would end up holding their own Million Women March two years later.
March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation
The March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation was held in Washington D.C. on April 25, 1993. Two other large National Marches in Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights were held in October 1979 and 1987 in the prior years before this march. The march was led by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force starting in January 1991 and finally had a mandated reached in May, with several other organizational meetings taking place leading up to the April 1993 march. The decision to host another march was due to the widespread discrimination and hate crimes the community still faced and in response to policies like Don't Ask Don't Tell and Colorado's 1992 constitutional amendment. It is estimated that the march attracted around 1 million people making it the largest march to take place in Washington D.C., with the days proceeding the march involving smaller events and demonstrations in and around the capital. The organizers of the march issued seven primary demands and had several notable speakers like Martina Navratilova, Ian McKellen, Judith Light and RuPaul Madona at the event.
The importance of mass protests
Mass protests are important because they help to send a massive signal to the government that a large group of people are unhappy with the policy or direction that the government is taking on an issue or towards a certain group of people. Mass protests can help to influence change that the people want to see or at least put pressure on the government.