The Most Memorable People from 2017's Year of Protests

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Thousands of people gather at City Hall to protest President Donald Trump and to show support for women's rights in San Francisco on January 21, 2017. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images.)

When we look back on 2017 in the decades to come, it will probably be remembered as 12 months of civil disobedience. Celebrities and everyday people alike rose up when the new President arrived in DC in January, and basically didn't stop for the rest of the year.

Here are some of the individuals we'll remember most:

Colin Kaepernick

SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 6: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7, safety Eric Reid #35, and linebacker Eli Harold #58 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel before a game against the New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images.)

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started his protest quietly. He refused to stand for the national anthem throughout August. When finally asked why, he stated: "People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody. That’s something that’s not happening." Since then, numerous athletes from a variety of sports have joined Kaepernick in dignified protest. Kaepernick's stance enraged critics on the right, inspired like-minded citizens on the left, and, some say, ultimately resulted in Kaepernick not being on an NFL roster at this time. Whatever you think of it, his protest will live on in memory for years to come, just as John Carlos and Tommie Smith's raised fists at the 1968 Olympics have.

Nina Donovan and Ashley Judd


On January 21, 2017 (the day after Trump's inauguration), the largest single-day protest in American history happened, thanks to the organizational wizardry of Tamika D. Mallory, Bob Bland, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour. Women publicly united for the Women's March in a way not seen since feminism's second wave. Streets all over the country transformed into a sea of striking pink, as women expressed their frustrations and fears over the new administration. There was one voice at Washington DC's Woman's March that spoke the loudest though: Ashley Judd took the words of then-19-year-old Nina Donovan to the world stage with a chill-inducing, heart-wrenching, rage-inspiring performance that accurately summed up the feelings of millions of women in just under 7 minutes.

Munira Ahmed

When Amplifier -- the self-described "art machine for social change" -- came up with the idea for a series of protest posters titled "We the People," it enlisted three artists that were perfect for the job: Ernesto YerenaJessica Sabogal, and Shepard Fairey. The most memorable image of all though was that of a young woman wearing an American flag hijab and a defiant expression. Fairey based his image on a photo Munira Ahmed had taken in 2007, close to Ground Zero in Manhattan. She came up with the concept "during a time when there was still a lot of questioning of the allegiance of Muslim-Americans.” She later told The Guardian: "It’s about saying, ‘I am American just as you are.’ I am American and I am Muslim, and I am very proud of both.” In the year of the travel ban, Ahmed's image is more powerful than ever.

Jimmy Kimmel

As one of the least outwardly political hosts in late night, it was astonishing to see Jimmy Kimmel last May, successfully taking a story about his son, who was born with a very serious heart condition, and turning it into a jumping-off point to talk about access to healthcare. Kimmel was able to take a contentious national debate and make it so deeply personal that the argument for protecting healthcare in post-Obamacare America seemed like a no-brainer. "If your baby is going to die," Kimmel said tearfully, "and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something that, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, or something else, we all agree on that, right?"

Ken Nwadike Jr.

No doubt you've seen him by now. That's because, where there is conflict, violence, and dissonance, there is peace campaigner Ken Nwadike Jr., trying to diffuse the situation using kindness, stoicism, and not a small amount of bravery. In a TED talk earlier this year, Nwadike Jr. said he felt compelled to offer free hugs in the midst of chaos “not just to engage in interactions and dialogue with people, but also just to be a reminder of love, even in volatile situations.”

Tuffy Tuffington

In August, after far right groups caused violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, cities around the country pledged to fight back against neo-Nazi and far-right groups, should they plan to assemble anywhere again. So when Patriot Prayer announced a rally at Crissy Field, San Francisco sprang into action. Everyone from clowns and drag queens to paddle boarders and music fans organized events around the city to peacefully object to the group's presence. The one that garnered the most national attention, however, came from a local artist named Tuffy Tuffington, who proposed leaving an inordinate amount of dog waste on Crissy Field the day before Patriot Prayer arrived. Not only was Tuffington's idea hugely popular, it was picked up by prestigious publications around the country, including the Washington Post and The New Yorker. In the end, Patriot Prayer canceled their rally before any action needed to be taken, prompting Tuffington to take to Facebook to pass on the good news: "Your dog's services are no longer needed!" he wrote. "Power to the poople?"

Tarana Burke

Actor Rose McGowan and Founder of #MeToo Campaign Tarana Burke, embrace on stage at the Women's March / Women's Convention in Detroit, Michigan, on October 27, 2017. Photo by RENA LAVERTY/AFP/Getty Images

In October, women's voices were again amplified with #MeToo. The 2007 brainchild of Tarana Burke, the Me Too movement was picked up by Alyssa Milano in the middle of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and, with one tweet, helped catapult Burke's concept to a worldwide audience.


The genius of #MeToo is that it gave women a means to speak up about sexual harassment and assault in a simple but powerful way that demonstrated the sheer scale of the problem, without forcing assault survivors to share traumatic details if they didn't want. By the end of the year, Burke rightfully found herself in Time's Person of the Year issue as one of "The Silence Breakers."

Michael Moore

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 15: Michael Moore leads his Broadway audience to Trump Tower to protest President Donald Trump. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for for DKC/O&M)

On August 15, an hour and a half into his Broadway show, The Terms of My Surrender, Michael Moore crammed his audience into two double-decker buses (one of which had Mark Ruffalo with a megaphone on top of it) and took them to Trump Tower for an impromptu protest. Once at Fifth Avenue, actresses Olivia Wilde and Marisa Tomei joined the 45-minute-long rally. It was an inspired moment in what has been a busy year for Moore; his dedication to getting people out into the streets also prompted him to create Resistance Calendar, a guide to every planned protest happening around the country, well into 2018.

Juli Briskman

Juli Briskman flipping off President Trump in Sterling, Virginia. Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images.)


One Saturday afternoon in October, a 50-year-old mother of two found her bicycle being overtaken by President Trump's motorcade. Feeling "angry about where our country is right now," Juli Briskman saw this as "an opportunity to say something." So she gave the cars a middle finger salute. Twice. Despite being fired from her job for making the gesture, Briskman tells the Huffington Post that she's "doing better than ever."