In the week since the 2016 election results were made public, protests against Donald Trump have spread across America. But these protests are the latest in a long line of political demonstrations throughout history, including the three mentioned below.
1. The University of Paris strike in 1229: One of the first academic walk-outs in history
Many medieval institutions of higher learning were deeply entrenched in royal support, but that wasn't always the case. The king of France gave students at the University of Paris (a.k.a. the Sorbonne) insane privilege and immunity from secular prosecution after a tavern brawl in 1200, but his grandson didn't feel the same way thirty years later. When another violent incident in 1129 led to one student's execution (more on who started it here), Louis IX didn't support the students' exemption from prosecution by royal authorities. And soldiers representing Louis's mom attacked a bunch of innocent students.
As a result, the students and faculty went on a two-year strike. To be fair, though, not everybody picked up and left; the secular students and teachers said good-bye, while masters of the Dominican order who taught there stayed. Those who did go on strike went to school elsewhere (Toulouse and Oxford, anyone?) and took their funds, prestige, and intellectual dialogue with them. They wound up damaging Paris's economy and reputation so much that Louis IX gave in and gifted them self-governance in 1231. Then things got back to normal.
2. The Morant Bay Rebellion in 1865: A tragic fight for freedom
Although the British Empire technically had abolished slavery in most of its territories by 1833, people of color in lands under its dominion were still abominably oppressed. The British mistreated the Black people of Jamaica, including refusing them rights to own their own land. Furthermore, legislation in the 1830s and 1840s suppressed Jamaican voter rights and was dedicated to criminalizing Jamaicans; when a recession hit after over-taxation, prices went up astronomically, making it hard for people to afford basic goods. And Jamaica's governor continually intercepted letters that the people of Jamaica sent to Queen Victoria, who, when she did get them, was dismissive of their requests for help.
A statue of Paul Bogle, a national hero of Jamaica. Image via dubdem sound system/Wikimedia Commons.
Tensions came to a head on October 11, 1865, after a local man was incarcerated unjustly. Black Jamaicans, led by minister Paul Bogle, marched on the local police station and courthouse after having petitioned authorities and holding public meetings. A crowd gathered, and the white authorities opened fire, killing seven Jamaicans. In retaliation, buildings were set on fire and officials died; the governor massacred 439 Black Jamaicans, with many more suffering corporal punishment and hundreds more others imprisoned and executed.
3. Trail of Broken Treaties: A Native American protest for Indigenous rights
As Indigenous leaders protest the Dakota Access Pipeline Project (DAPL), let's honor their activist predecessors by examining the Trail of Broken Treaties in 1972. A 600 person-strong group of Native American activists traveled across the country and organized a protest to bring issues affecting their communities to the attention of the federal government. The problems the American Indian Movement (AIM) sought to address with then-President Richard Nixon about included reclaiming and protecting their land and rights for clean water. Their requests were outlined in a 20-point paper.
The culmination of the Trail of Broken Treaties was a week-long occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. Sadly, the President didn't meet with the protesters, and the AIM's attempts to raise awareness for their issues publicly fell short of hopes, since the media focused on other aspects of their protest.
Feature image, a painting of the Morant Rebellion, via LoopJamaica.