The top 10 protest symbols of all time

#10 - Tear Down This Wall (Berlin wall)

berlin wall teardown

Ever since the wall separating East and West Berlin was constructed in 1961, it was a symbol of the postwar rift between East and West Germany and the great power struggle of the Cold War. Yet on Nov. 9, 1989, a moment came that shaped Europe's history: East Germany announced that it would open borders with the West. In the celebration that ensued, tens of thousands poured across the boundary and began to dance and chisel away the wall — tearing down 28 years of deadly separation and ushering in a new era. The change would later come to represent the end of the Cold War and the eventual fall of the Soviet Union. The following October, Germany officially became one nation again.

#9 - Standing Up by Sitting Down (Black segregation in the US)

rosa parks

Even though African Americans constituted some 70% of total bus ridership in Montgomery, Ala., Rosa Parks still had trouble keeping her seat on Dec. 1, 1955. It was against the law for her to refuse to give up her seat to a white man, and her subsequent arrest incited the Montgomery Bus Boycott. One year later, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court's decision that made segregated seating unconstitutional. Parks was known thereafter as the "mother of the civil-rights movement."

#8 - The Ultimate Sacrifice (Vietnam war)

Thich Quang Duc

Sometimes an image has the power to change the world. On June 11, 1963, Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc sat down cross-legged in the middle of a busy street in Saigon, his robes soaked in fuel, and set fire to himself; his body was quickly engulfed in flames. The haunting and horrifying protest against the persecution of Buddhists by the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese regime got results: as more monks began to emulate Thich Quang Duc's example, President Ngo Dinh Diem fell from favor. In November 1963 he was removed from power by a coup d'etat and executed.

#7 - A Shot Heard Round the World (Iran's presidential elections)

Neda Agha Soltan

Most media coverage of the protests that greeted Iran's widely disparaged presidential election results were already being captured and transmitted by camera phone and text message, so it's perhaps only fitting that the last moments of 26-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan's life were captured on a grainy cell-phone video. The 40-second clip, which has become an Internet sensation, is a graphic testament to the protests' brutal suppression: Neda, searching the camera with helpless eyes, struggles for life after being shot in the chest during a Tehran street demonstration, as bystanders crowd around desperately trying to help. Her name, which is Farsi for voice or calling, has become a rallying cry for the growing opposition movement and a symbol of their resistance.

Link to clip [Scenes of blood] -

#6 - The Fall of Saddam (Tear down of Hussein statue)

saddam - the top 10 protest symbols of all time

While the advisability of the U.S. invasion of Iraq will long be a matter of debate, the overthrow of one of the world's most notorious dictators was inarguably a moment of jubilation for many Iraqis. On April 9, 2003, as U.S. troops moved into Baghdad, Iraqi citizens slipped a noose around the neck of a statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square and dragged it from its plinth with the assistance of a detachment of U.S. Marines and their armored vehicle. The towering statue was subsequently beheaded and dragged through the streets. The effusive demonstration was a stunning symbol of the nation's liberation from Saddam's brutal regime.

#5 - Four Dead in Ohio (Vietnam war again)

ohio - the top 10 protest symbols of all time

On May 4, 1970, a Vietnam War protest at Kent State University turned ugly. As students were dispersing, Ohio National Guardsmen fired into the crowd, killing four students and wounding nine. The dark day set off a nationwide student strike that shut down hundreds of colleges and universities and came to symbolize the sharp political and social divisions of the age. Among the most potent images to emerge from the tragedy is this photo of 14-year-old runaway Mary Vecchio wailing over the body of Jeffrey Miller, one of the slain students. Snapped by John Filo, an undergraduate photojournalism major, the shot appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the country and won a Pulitzer Prize.

#4 - A Concert on the Mall (Marian Anderson)

Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson had a three-octave range and a voice that conductor Arturo Toscanini reportedly said was "such as one hears once in 100 years." Yet in the 1920s U.S. — where African Americans were as unwelcome in famous concert halls as they were at the front of buses — she was an unlikely star. Her remarkable voice propelled her past barriers: in 1936 she became the first African American to sing at the White House, and she regularly sold out her shows. Anderson's most lasting legacy, however, came out of a concert she didn't give: in 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution denied her request to perform in their Constitution Hall in Washington. Amid a public outcry during which First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the D.A.R. in protest, the Federal Government gave Anderson permission to sing at the Lincoln Memorial instead. That Easter Sunday, 75,000 Americans gathered in person and millions more tuned in to the radio to hear Anderson perform. Her first song was "My Country, 'Tis of Thee." She became a civil-rights icon overnight.

#3 - Voting with His Feet (Anti-Bush)

anti bush

"This is the farewell kiss, you dog!" Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi shouted at George W. Bush during a press conference on Dec. 14, 2008. Al-Zaidi then hurled his shoes at the startled U.S. President — a gesture embedded with great scorn in the Arab world, where the act connotes extreme disrespect. Bush, who narrowly dodged the flying footwear, brushed off the insult, but Iraqi security forces weren't so forgiving, beating al-Zaidi brutally. The stunt made international headlines and turned al-Zaidi into a hero in the eyes of many. It even spawned copycats: less than two months later, a Cambridge University student, Martin Jahnke, lobbed a sneaker at visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

#2 - Fists in the Air (Black Oppression)

olympics 1968 - the top 10 protest symbols of all time

African-American track athletes Tommie Smith (first place) and John Carlos (third place) used their wins in Mexico City's 1968 Olympic Games to show their opposition to the continued oppression of blacks in the U.S. They stood in black socks to represent black poverty; Carlos wore beads to symbolize black lynchings; together they raised their black-gloved fists in a cry for black unity. The silver medalist on the podium, Australian Peter Norman, wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on his tracksuit in solidarity. It cost him a hero's welcome upon his return home. Both Smith and Carlos were removed from the Games; none of the three men ever recanted their stances.

#1 - The Unknown Rebel (Chinese pro-democracy)

tienanmen - the top 10 protest symbols of all time

After the death of pro-democracy leader Hu Yaobang in mid-1989, students began gathering in Beijing's Tiananmen Square to mourn his passing. Over the course of seven weeks, people from all walks of life joined the group to protest for greater freedom. The Chinese government deployed military tanks on June 4 to squelch the growing demonstration and randomly shot into the crowds, killing more than 200 people. One lone, defiant man walked onto the road and stood directly in front of the line of tanks, weaving from side to side to block the tanks and even climbing on top of the first tank at one point in an attempt to get inside. The man's identity remains a mystery. Some say he was killed; others believe him to be in hiding in Taiwan.

I hope you found this interesting cos it took a hell of a long time to do! lol
source: Time magazine

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  • 3

    I don't know about you lot, but I'd never do that. I've already had a bus run right over my head, just thinking about it scares me.

    what I wonder every time I remember this guy is why the tanks were perfectly OK with "squelching" citizens/students in Tiananmen Square, but not OK with doing it to one guy?
    - Jackylegs November 19, 2010, 11:12 pm
    We've all experienced this moment. You're walking down the street, perhaps carrying some bags of shopping home, when all of a sudden you realise that you and a tank coming in the opposite direction are on a collision course. You stop so as not to bump in to each other, then there's that embarassing moment when you and the tank both try to dodge left. Then you both try to go right. You catch the tanks eye, share an embarrassed chuckle and you say to the tank "you go first". You and the tank apologise and go on your way each thinking 'one of life's little moments eh' or something along those lines.

    And then just because some journalist happened to film the whole incident, you end up being dissappeared by the Chinese government.
    - Ruleb November 22, 2010, 12:46 pm
    If it squashed one guy then he is a martyr a cause for everyone else to uprise. his sacrifice would lead to more and more people wanting to be like him.
    - buddyfoeva November 22, 2010, 1:03 pm
    but the others were squashed anyway...
    - Jackylegs November 23, 2010, 7:42 pm
    yes i know this but it was one man that was standing up against them. that is a lot different then a bunch of people doing it
    - buddyfoeva November 24, 2010, 8:45 pm
    you're saying because there was only one person, they didn't run him over for fear of creating a martyr?
    Sounds retarded to me. I think they didn't run him over because he was offering them coffee and donuts.
    - Jackylegs November 24, 2010, 9:32 pm
  • 2

    You know, I disagreed with pretty much all of Bush's policies. But I have to admit, he handled the shoe guy like a champ.

    he's got the quickness
    - c8r15 November 22, 2010, 11:15 am
  • 1

    Good post man +3

  • 1

    The guy in #1 is officially one of my Heroes

  • 1

    Not sure about the order but I agree that these are some really amazing people.

  • 1

    sweet post man

  • 1

    death to vegetables

    zzz - the top 10 protest symbols of all time

    • hightec
    • November 20, 2010, 4:40 am
  • 1

    What about this one:
    271723 eric douglace

    Google, Google, Google, Google what are we going to do with you?
    - triclebickle November 23, 2010, 8:44 pm
    Anything imaginable. That's why I'm Google. :p
    - CallMeGoogle November 24, 2010, 3:09 am
    I am now a kgb user
    - thekitkatkid November 24, 2010, 11:25 pm
  • 1

    Epic post Jake, definitely +3 also favorited
    p.s how do u spell favorite in past tense?

    thx, and attempt at explaining the 'p.s': there isn't actually a past tense cos it's an adjective. We say favourite as if we're doing it whereas that's not standard English.
    I just say 'favourited' and maybe the English language will evolve to include that!?
    - jakematsui November 25, 2010, 9:16 pm
    ahh, thank you kind sir.As a token of my gratitude, I shall share some wine with you.
    - thekitkatkid November 25, 2010, 10:49 pm
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