“From Protest to Resistance” was coined in 1967 as the Vietnam protests took a national stage. (“From Protest to Resistance” was a response by historian Staughton Lynd toward civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. Lynd’s title mocked Rustin’s 1965 title “From Protest to Politics” in which Rustin called for people to stop protesting in the streets and start working to build the Democratic Party.) Fifty years later the term “Resistance” has emerged as the key word for the left, which is espoused by Star Wars fans who adored Rouge One in December 2016, as well as by the Democratic Party politicians who promised to Resist Trump. For activists the Resistance to Trump began with his Cabinet picks prior to his inauguration.
I joined more than 100 demonstrators in Philadelphia on January 9, 2017, for what could possibly have been the first national day of protests for the new year. The rally was hosted by 350 Philadelphia, Sierra Club and a coalition of local groups, which was called “Tell Our Senators: No Climate Deniers in the Cabinet.” Demonstrators opposed the appointments of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, Scott Pruitt for EPA, Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy, and Ryan Zinke for Department of Interior. “Protesters urge Senators to reject Trump nominees to environment posts” was the headline of NPR‘s PA member station, State Impact. It estimated that 200 people protested in the “freezing weather” in Philly, saying the event was part of “a series around the country” on Monday. The rally began outside the office of PA Democratic Senator Bob Casey and we then marched in the street to the office of Republican Senator Pat Toomey.
The protests expanded beyond Philly, however, and the national day of protests fell under the hashtag #DayAgainstDenial. The website Color Lines reported the Philly protests, as well as the other protests that emerged across the country: Boston; Doral, Florida; Newark, NJ; Denver, CO; NYC; Metairie, Louisiana; Burlington, Vermont; and Louisville, Kentucky. The website Truth-Out reported that 200 people appeared at Senator Susan Collins’ office in Portland, Maine, and was surprised that major cities like San Francisco gathered hundreds of demonstrators in sub-freezing weather across the nation. All of these protests broke out the day before hearings began for Trump’s cabinet picks, which seems to be unprecedented historically.