Independence Day: The Success of Protest

This is an article I wrote for my employer’s newsletter.

Independence Day:  The Success of Protest

By Meka R Brown

On July 4, 1776 delegates from the 13 colonies met and adopted the Declaration of Independence.  This historical event followed the success of the American colonists’ defeat of the British troops in the Revolutionary War.  The war was preceded by several protests over taxation.

In 1765 the Stamp Act was imposed on the American colonies.  Those colonists most affected protested in the streets which sometimes turned into violent riots.  The protests and rioting led to a meeting between those in power and the opposition of the tax and ended with the Stamp Act being repealed in 1766.

The Townshend Acts were a series of taxes imposed on the colonies in 1767.  Taxes were levied on British goods like china, glass, paper, lead and paint.  The colonists decided to boycott the purchase of these goods and protest the taxes by vandalizing stored British goods.  After the Boston Massacre in 1770, most of the Townshend acts were repealed.  Tea was the only exception.

In protest of the tea tax, the colonists refused to purchase British tea and smuggled in Dutch tea, which caused Britain to impose the Tea Act.  This new tea tax caused the protesters to board ships owed by the British East India Company and throw several hundred chests of tea into the water.  This protest known as the Boston Tea Party would be the last protest leading into the Revolutionary War.

Our independence as a nation was built on the power of protest.  Protests have been held for women’s rights, voting rights, civil rights, anti-war, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, immigration, and so many other issues.  During these trying times in the wake of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Armaud Arbery, protesting can once again effect change as the protests in the late 1700s did for this country.

Currently our country is in crisis with the Covid-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests and loss of jobs, but all is not lost.  Just as our country has prevailed in other times of crisis, it shall prevail this time.  As you celebrate freedom and Independence Day do not hang your head in hopelessness, instead raise your head in hope.  This nation is built on dreams and no matter how hard the struggle or how violent the fight, dreams do come true.