We Protest - Oklahoma Center for the Humanities
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We Protest

On April 5, join the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities as we unveil our newest exhibition, “WE PROTST.”

Discover the rich history of political and social demonstrations in Oklahoma. This exhibition provides a unique insight into the different forms of civil disobedience, including protests, rallies, marches, and sit-ins, and how they have shaped our constitutional rights to free speech and peaceful assembly. Join us from April 5-27, and again from July 5-27, to explore the underlying tensions that exist in our society and learn how these demonstrations have played a crucial role in shaping Oklahoma’s history.

The right to “peaceably assemble and to petition the Government” grounds the high ideals of the American Constitution. Oklahoma’s State Constitution adds to the language in our nation’s founding document. In particular, Oklahomans’ right to “assemble for their own good” shall not be infringed, prompting the state’s citizens to protest on behalf of their own self-interest. Obviously, one’s “own good” varies, and We Protest explores the contentious and multifaceted history of Oklahomans’ resistance to State and Federal authority.

Despite the oftentimes progressive connotation of protest in American parlance, historically, protestors from all sides of the political spectrum invoke their right to political and social dissent. From pro-war rallies post-9/11 to anti-war protests of the war in Vietnam; from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church protests of secular social events to the protests that arose following George Floyd’s death at the hands of police, Oklahomans wield the power of the collective voice for progressive, regressive, and (sometimes) seemingly apolitical reasons. We Protest aims to capture all angles of civil and political demonstration.

Movements featured in this exhibit:

  • Civil Rights Sit-ins by NAACP, 1958-1964
  • Civil Rights Picketers, 1960s
  • Right to Work Movement, 1962
  • Tulsa Freedom March, 1964
  • Vietnam Anti-War Protests, 1965-1969
  • Sanitation Workers Strike, 1969
  • Anti-Bus Integration Demonstrators, 1970-1972
  • American Indian Movement, 1972
  • Anti-Pornography Picketers, 1977-78
  • Gay Rights Demonstrators, 1978
  • Christian Group Protesting Monty Python’s Life of Brian, 1979
  • Teachers Strike, 1979
  • Pro-Choice Rally, 1990
  • Gay Pride Parade, 1993
  • Occupy Tulsa, 2011
  • Terence Crutcher Demonstrations, 2016-2017
  • Native Protestors at Oklahoma Pipelines, 2017
  • Oklahoma Teachers Walkout, 2018
  • Families Belong Together Rally, 2018
  • Native Protest of TU’s True Commitment Plan, 2019
  • Reparation Marches for Tulsa Race Massacre, 2019-2021
  • Black Lives Matter, 2020
  • Trump Rally, 2020
  • Pro-Choice Picketers, 2022
  • Native Sovereignty Protestors, 2021
  • Black Panther March, 2021
  • Pro-Life Rally, 2022
  • Nex Benedict Student Walkout, 2024