A Plus' Game Changer Of The Year: The Protesters Of 2016

Big things are happening, and it's all thanks to these folks.

This morning, the A Plus editorial staff woke up to the news that Donald Trump had been named Time magazine's Person of the Year.

The magazine's choice is understandable: President-elect Trump has shaken up the global order with one of the most unlikely and divisive victories in the modern political era. He did it by hearing the calls for radical change that many other candidates missed. At the end of the day, Time's goal is to select the most influential person in the world, and there is no doubt that the magazine hits its mark in 2016.


But at A Plus, we've always tried to focus on the leaders and luminaries that inspire positivity.  And while influence on a global scale is certainly worth recognizing, we feel that there are more important qualities worth tipping our collective cap to: like compassion, bravery, ingenuity, and selflessness.

To that end, today we are proud to announce A Plus' first ever Game Changer of Year: the protesters of 2016.

Throughout the year, public protests in the United States and all over the world were in the headlines in a way that could only be reminiscent of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. These protesters were not always successful and they do not represent one political party or another, but they did elicit the kind of positive change A Plus strives to find in our world every day. 

Without question, there were some protesters who won — and won big — this year.

Just this week, Dakota Access pipeline protesters scored a major victory with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision not to grant a construction permit for the pipeline. Those protesters endured hundreds of injuries, tear gas, rubber bullets, mace, and water cannons in freezing temperatures without giving in. They were even joined on social media by thousands of Facebook users who posed as protesters in an effort to confuse authorities. While the Dakota Access pipeline's future is still uncertain, the protesters' victory is inspiring confidence for the future.

In March, hundreds of union workers from the now-famous Carrier plant in Indianapolis were in the street protesting the loss of more than a thousand jobs that were being shipped to Mexico. They, too, had to wait months to see the fruits of their literal labor. While hundreds of jobs are still going to Mexico, this month Time's Person of the Year Donald Trump announced that he had struck a controversial deal with Carrier to keep close to 800 jobs at the Indiana plant.

After one of the deadliest shootings in American history, a group of "angel" protesters protected the funerals of slain patrons of Pulse Nightclub, many of whom were members of the LGBTQ community. This came after news that the Westboro Baptist Church — an anti-gay organization that incites rage with its public displays of bigotry — encouraged members to protest the funerals of the deceased with anti-LGBTQ slogans and signs. The protesters of the protesters — led by a local city theater — arrived in angel outfits, complete with wings, and shielded friends and family of the victims from the Westboro Baptist Church protesters.

Isaac Saul / A Plus

Advocates of a minimum wage increase have won victories in several major cities across the country, putting to the test one of the most complex and hotly contested economic issues. The Black Lives Matter movement, though derided by some conservatives, has brought important discussions about race and injustice into the homes of millions of Americans. Corporations, sports teams, and local businesses protested the discriminatory HB2 bill in North Carolina that eventually led to the unseating of Gov. Pat McCroy. At the University of Missouri, the school's president retired after weeks of demonstrations over alleged racial discrimination at the school.

In Poland, millions of women sent the economy to a screeching halt when they hit the streets over a total abortion ban that included instances of rape, incest, and even when the woman's life was in danger. Icelandic women protested the gender wage gap by walking out of work. Egyptians protested censorship with a spree of selfies online. In the wake of the Panama Papers, which linked world leaders to shady business dealings, several countries saw an outbreak of protests, one of which forced out Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson. Throughout India, millions took to the streets to protest privatization and right-wing economic policies. In France, millions took to the streets to protest the fractured Socialist Party.

All over the United States and the world, we saw massive and effective protests in 2016 that have already led to or likely will lead to significant reform. 

These protests, to us, are a reminder that the power is still in the hands of the people. And that there is no better way to exercise that power than with a peaceful demonstration.

Cover image via Diego G Diaz /  stock_photo_world / Michaelpuche / Shutterstock.com.


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