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13 Peaceful Protests and Whether They Worked

© Julie Dermansky/Julie Dermansky/Corbis

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations have been going on for over a month. From one side, we hear that the occupiers are a bunch of naive kids who need to change out of their hemp ponchos and take a shower if they want to be taken seriously. Others say the demonstrators are using the only means at their disposal to voice their frustrations and effect change.

To bring perspective to the debate, we've looked through the past 200 years of peaceful protests, from tragic to triumphant to just plain weird.

1. Cherokee Indian Resistance to Forced Relocation (1838)

Objective: Avoid having their land seized by the United States government

Method of Protest: Cherokees stood their ground, and made no preparations to move.

Results: U.S. troops destroyed the homes and property of the resisting Cherokees, forcing them to move west on a journey that would leave approximately 4,000 dead from disease and starvation.

Was the Protest a Success? No. The path the Cherokees took from their homes is still knows as the Trail of Tears.

2. Gandhi’s Salt March (1930)

Objective: Independence of Colonial India from British Authority

Method of Protest: To avoid paying the British tax on salt, Gandhi decided to get his own salt. To do this, he walked 240 miles over the course of 24 days, joined by a growing number of followers.

Results: Gandhi was jailed, but the protest drew national attention to his cause and he was eventually released.

Was the Protest a Success? Not immediately, but it is considered a watershed moment for India’s struggle for independence, which was finally obtained two decades later.

3. The White Rose Resistance (1942–1943)

Objective: Undermine the Nazi Rule of Germany

Method of Protest: Distributing leaflets that philosophically challenged the ideas of the Nazis.

Results: The six main members of the group were arrested and beheaded.

Was the Protest a Success? No

4. The Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955–1956)

Objective: Lessen racial segregation and inequality for blacks in the American South

Method of Protest: Montgomery’s black population refused to use public transportation.

Results: An Alabama district court ruled that the racial segregation was unlawful. The decision was appealed but upheld by the Supreme Court.

Was the Protest a Success? Yes. It also served as the impetus for the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

5. The Kent State Demonstrations (1970)

Caitlin Mirra / Shutterstock.com

Objective: Get President Nixon to stop the invasion of Cambodia and end the war in Vietnam

Method of Protest: Four days of protests and marches

Results: The National Guard fired 67 rounds into the demonstration, killing four and injuring nine.

Was the Protest a Success? Hard to say. While there were no immediate changes in U.S. foreign policy, it did spark many additional protests across the country, which may have had a hand in ending the war.

6. The Tree Sitters of Pureora (1978)

Objective: Stop deforestation of the Pureora forest in New Zealand

Method of Protest: Built tree houses, refused to leave them

Results: The Government agreed to permanently stop logging operations and the area became a park.

Was the Protest a Success? Yes. It has also inspired many other tree-sitting protests, with varying levels of success.

7. Tiananmen Square Protests (1989)

Objective: Political reform and free media in the authoritarian Chinese government

Method of Protest: Seven weeks of peaceful marches and demonstrations

Results: The People's Liberation Army of China opened fire on the protesters. The exact death toll of the massacre is still unknown; estimates range from 200 and 10,000.

Was the Protest a Success? No. The current Chinese government does not acknowledge the killings. All online information about the massacre is censored in China.

8. The Lust Lady Strike of San Francisco (1997)

Objective: Ability for strippers at San Francisco’s Lusty Lady club to form a union

Method of Protest: Strippers went on strike protesting outside the club and asking patrons not to enter unless the women were allowed to form a union.

Results: After a lengthy legal battle, the dancers were permitted to form a union

Was the Protest a Success? Yes

9. The Singing Revolution (1986-1991)

Objective: Independence from the former Soviet Union for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Method of Protest: Protesters gathered in the streets where they sang songs of national pride, which had been outlawed by the Soviet occupiers.

Results: After four years of demonstrations, many involving song, and the deaths of 14 protesters in Lithuania, all three countries gained sovereignty.

Was the Protest a Success? Yes

10. Demonstration against Invading Iraq (2003)

Objective: Stop the United States from invading Iraq

Method of Protest: An estimated 6 to 10 million people around the world publicly protested the impending war.

Results: The invasion of Iraq happened anyway.

Was the Protest a Success? No. We still have troops in Iraq to this day.

11. The “Lactivists” at Applebee’s (2007)

Objective: Stop discrimination against public breastfeeding at Applebee’s Restaurants

Method of Protest: A “Nurse-in” was scheduled — across the country, breastfeeding mothers would nurse their infants in plain view of Applebee’s.

Results: Applebee’s put out a statement saying “This situation has provided an opportunity for us to work with our associates to ensure we’re making nursing mothers feel welcome….we will also accommodate other guests who would be more comfortable moving to another area of the restaurant.”

Was the Protest a Success? Yes

12. The Wisconsin Teachers Strike (2011)

Matt Apps / Shutterstock.com

Objective: Keep collective bargaining rights for teachers unions in Wisconsin

Method of Protest: For nearly five months, public demonstrations of as many as 100,000 protesters gathered at the Wisconsin Capitol Building.

Results: The Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, which stripped collective bargaining rights from teachers, was not repealed.

Was the Protest a Success? No, though there are still several lawsuits pending against the bill.

13. The Nuts of Jericho (2007)

Objective: Get the post-apocalyptic TV show Jericho renewed for a second season

Method of Protest: In reference to a scene in the season finale, Jericho fans sent over 20 tons of assorted nuts to the offices of the CBS executives who had canceled the show.

Results: The show was renewed for a second season.

Was the Protest a Success? Yes, though Jericho was again canceled after the second season. The third season was released as a series of comic books.

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entertainment
13 Fascinating Facts About Nina Simone
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Nina Simone, who would’ve celebrated her 85th birthday today, was known for using her musical platform to speak out. “I think women play a major part in opening the doors for better understanding around the world,” the “Strange Fruit” songstress once said. Though she chose to keep her personal life shrouded in secrecy, these facts grant VIP access into a life well-lived and the music that still lives on.

1. NINA SIMONE WAS HER STAGE NAME.

The singer was born as Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933. But by age 21, the North Carolina native was going by a different name at her nightly Atlantic City gig: Nina Simone. She hoped that adopting a different name would keep her mother from finding out about her performances. “Nina” was her boyfriend’s nickname for her at the time. “Simone” was inspired by Simone Signoret, an actress that the singer admired.

2. SHE HAD HUMBLE BEGINNINGS.


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There's a reason that much of the singer's music had gospel-like sounds. Simone—the daughter of a Methodist minister and a handyman—was raised in the church and started playing the piano by ear at age 3. She got her start in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, where she played gospel hymns and classical music at Old St. Luke’s CME, the church where her mother ministered. After Simone died on April 21, 2003, she was memorialized at the same sanctuary.

3. SHE WAS BOOK SMART...

Simone, who graduated valedictorian of her high school class, studied at the prestigious Julliard School of Music for a brief period of time before applying to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Unfortunately, Simone was denied admission. For years, she maintained that her race was the reason behind the rejection. But a Curtis faculty member, Vladimir Sokoloff, has gone on record to say that her skin color wasn’t a factor. “It had nothing to do with her…background,” he said in 1992. But Simone ended up getting the last laugh: Two days before her death, the school awarded her an honorary degree.

4. ... WITH DEGREES TO PROVE IT.

Simone—who preferred to be called “doctor Nina Simone”—was also awarded two other honorary degrees, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College.

5. HER CAREER WAS ROOTED IN ACTIVISM.

A photo of Nina Simone circa 1969

Gerrit de Bruin

At the age of 12, Simone refused to play at a church revival because her parents had to sit at the back of the hall. From then on, Simone used her art to take a stand. Many of her songs in the '60s, including “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Why (The King of Love Is Dead),” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” addressed the rampant racial injustices of that era.

Unfortunately, her activism wasn't always welcome. Her popularity diminished; venues didn’t invite her to perform, and radio stations didn’t play her songs. But she pressed on—even after the Civil Rights Movement. In 1997, Simone told Interview Magazine that she addressed her songs to the third world. In her own words: “I’m a real rebel with a cause.”

6. ONE OF HER MOST FAMOUS SONGS WAS BANNED.

Mississippi Goddam,” her 1964 anthem, only took her 20 minutes to an hour to write, according to legend—but it made an impact that still stands the test of time. When she wrote it, Simone had been fed up with the country’s racial unrest. Medger Evers, a Mississippi-born civil rights activist, was assassinated in his home state in 1963. That same year, the Ku Klux Klan bombed a Birmingham Baptist church and as a result, four young black girls were killed. Simone took to her notebook and piano to express her sentiments.

“Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam,” she sang.

Some say that the song was banned in Southern radio stations because “goddam” was in the title. But others argue that the subject matter is what caused the stations to return the records cracked in half.

7. SHE NEVER HAD A NUMBER ONE HIT.

Nina Simone released over 40 albums during her decades-spanning career including studio albums, live versions, and compilations, and scored 15 Grammy nominations. But her highest-charting (and her first) hit, “I Loves You, Porgy,” peaked at #2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1959. Still, her music would go on to influence legendary singers like Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin.

8. SHE USED HER STYLE TO MAKE A STATEMENT.

Head wraps, bold jewelry, and floor-skimming sheaths were all part of Simone’s stylish rotation. In 1967, she wore the same black crochet fishnet jumpsuit with flesh-colored lining for the entire year. Not only did it give off the illusion of her being naked, but “I wanted people to remember me looking a certain way,” she said. “It made it easier for me.”

9. SHE HAD MANY HOMES.

New York City, Liberia, Barbados, England, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were all places that Simone called home. She died at her home in Southern France, and her ashes were scattered in several African countries.

10. SHE HAD A FAMOUS INNER CIRCLE.

During the late '60s, Simone and her second husband Andrew Stroud lived next to Malcolm X and his family in Mount Vernon, New York. He wasn't her only famous pal. Simone was very close with playwright Lorraine Hansberry. After Hansberry’s death, Simone penned “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” in her honor, a tribute to Hansberry's play of the same title. Simone even struck up a brief friendship with David Bowie in the mid-1970s, who called her every night for a month to offer his advice and support.

11. YOU CAN STILL VISIT SIMONE IN HER HOMETOWN.

Photo of Nina Simone
Amazing Nina Documentary Film, LLC, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, an 8-foot sculpture of Eunice Waymon was erected in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina. Her likeness stands tall in Nina Simone Plaza, where she’s seated and playing an eternal song on a keyboard that floats in midair. Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, gave sculptor Zenos Frudakis some of Simone’s ashes to weld into the sculpture’s bronze heart. "It's not something very often done, but I thought it was part of the idea of bringing her home," Frudakis said.

12. YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD HER MUSIC IN RECENT HITS.

Rihanna sang a few verses of Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do” on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. He’s clearly a superfan: “Blood on the Leaves” and his duet with Jay Z, “New Day,” feature Simone samples as well, along with Lil’ Wayne’s “Dontgetit,” Common’s “Misunderstood” and a host of other tracks.

13. HER MUSIC IS STILL BEING PERFORMED.

Nina Revisited… A Tribute to Nina Simone was released along with the Netflix documentary in 2015. On the album, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Usher, Alice Smith, and more paid tribute to the legend by performing covers of 16 of her most famous tracks.

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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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