5Days4Democracy: Protests

Protests are as American as apple pie. Since that December day in 1773 when colonists dumped 92,000 pounds of tea into Boston Harbor to protest the Tea Act of 1773, Americans have used protests to make their voices heard and to advocate for change.

Throughout our history peaceful protests, which are protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution, have resulted in significant changes to our laws, our culture, and even our Constitution. Here a few of our most well known protests:

Women’s Suffrage Parade, March 13, 1913

This march, on the eve of President elect Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, was the first of many large demonstration in favor of giving women the right to vote. It would take another seven years to get the 19th Amendment ratified, which finally gave women the vote, though in practice it was primarily white women who got to vote. It would take another twenty years for Asian-American immigrants to gain suffrage and 45 years for Black American and Native American voter rights to be guaranteed with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. While suffrage for all women is now part of the Constitution, women are still waiting for protections under the Equal Rights Amendment of 1923 to be ratified.

We are all familiar with Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but did you know that idea for the famous march came from civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph in 1941? Randolph organized a march to protest FDR’s New Deal programs and the exclusion of Black people from post WWII jobs. The march never happened because Roosevelt issued an order to prohibit discrimination in hiring for government and defense jobs. In 1963 Randolph, backed by the NAACP and King, with the support of Southern Christian Leadership Conference joined forces for one large march for jobs and freedom. Their joined forces led to the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Further protests let to the Voting Rights Act a year later in 1965.

The Stonewall Riot, June 28, 1969

From 1952-1987 homosexuality was listed as a mental illness in the DSM. In the 50’s and 60’s it was not unusual for the police to raid gay bars and harass patrons. When police raided the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, people had had enough and fought back. Protests lasted for six days and resulted in a more cohesive gay and lesbian community and lead to the development of new gay rights organizations. The one year anniversary was recognized with the first Pride parade. Since the 1990s the Supreme Court has ruled on a number of landmark cases that decriminalized homosexuality, legalizing gay marriage, and recently, making it illegal to fire an employee based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Americans have taken to the streets to protest against wars, nuclear weapons, and tax policies. They have taken to the streets in solidarity. They have marched in favor of science and rights for marginalized communities. They have marched for women and the environment and gun control laws.

Today there are active protests occurring throughout the United States. Citizens have taken to the streets to protest police brutality against Black people. Americans are preparing rallies and marches against evictions and the inclusion of 1619 Project in school curriculums. Citizens are marching for Breonna Taylor, in remembrance of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and in support of the police.

Democracy depends on the participation of citizens. Protests are just one means of participating and advocating for change.

Imagine Your Story @RRPL: Pride Month

June marks the beginning of Pride Month. The celebration of LGBTQ+ pride occurs in June to honor the Stonewall Uprising of June 28, 1969. The previous links will take you to the Library of Congress; I would encourage you to take some time and explore primary sources, images, documentary footage, and audioclips. While the month is typically marked with celebrations and parades, Pride Month also serves as a sober reminder that we have a long history in this country of marginalizing people as well as a history of uprisings by marginalized people against oppression. It’s been a difficult couple of weeks, to say the least, so I was thrilled to get lost in a book that turned out to be exactly what I needed right now.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune is a charming story about a remote island that serves as a home for magical misfits. Linus Barker is a case worker for the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth. In this role he visits government run orphanages and over-sees the well-being of the residents. He is an efficient worker and content with his solitary life. Linus is perplexed whe he is called to a meeting by the Extremely Upper Management. Is he being disciplined for that salad dressing stain on his shirt? It turns out the reason for the meeting is stranger than that. Extremely Upper Management have a special assignment for him- travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside. He is to spend a month there and evaluate the orphange and it’s caretaker, Arthur Parnassus. Also, the assignment is classified, top-secret, and potentially dangerous.

Nothing in his career prepares Linus for what he discovers on the island. He is confronted with a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. His task is to determine for the government if Arthur has control of these children or if they are a threat to the nearby village and possibly the world. As he pushes through his fear and gets to know the inhabitants for Marsyas Island, he discovers a growing closenes with the charming Arthur. He also discovers more dark secrets that threaten to destroy everything.

I cannot emphasis enough how charming and sweet and heartwarming this story is. This book addresses society’s tendancy to fear and shun those who are different, it talks about the meaning of family, and presents a budding gay romance, all with magic and humor. I fell under the spell of Marsyas Island and hope that this is not the end of the story of Linus and Arthur and the children who call the house in the cerulean sea home.

For additional Pride Month Reads be sure to visit our digital libraries for specially curated collections.

OverDrive collection: https://clevnet.overdrive.com/clevnet-rrpl/content/collection/1084850

Hoopla Collections:

https://www.hoopladigital.com/collection/4123

https://www.hoopladigital.com/collection/1530

https://www.hoopladigital.com/collection/4103

https://www.hoopladigital.com/collection/5846

https://www.hoopladigital.com/collection/1599

Stay strong, dear reader, and take care of yourself and each other. We are all in this together.

~Megan