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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

In the past two weeks, I have written two articles about why solidarity is important. I continue that discussion this week by talking about some historical figures who used solidarity to make change. These leaders were so powerful (because of their commitment to solidarity), but they were often forgotten by history, or even assassinated by the government. Ultimately, the ruling class writes history so that those with privilege, like myself, often have never heard of certain people, but figures like Fred Hampton, Marsha P. Johnson and William Lloyd Garrison are great examples of how to make change.

Fred Hampton

Fred Hampton was an activist, revolutionary and leader in the Black Panther Party. In 1969 the FBI, determined to prevent the BPP from succeeding, decided to set up an arms raid on Hampton’s apartment. Before the raid, FBI informant William O’Neal slipped Hampton a barbiturate, so Hampton would be asleep during the raid. Ultimately, during the raid an FBI agent shot Hampton point-blank while he was sleeping next to his 9-months pregnant wife in bed. All of this happened because the FBI were scared of what Hampton had been able to do before his brutal killing. Because Hampton was a beautiful speaker and effective leader who was able to convince people of all races to work with each other against the ruling class, he was assassinated. Today, we must look at Fred Hampton as a role model because he was an incredible revolutionary who was able to bring many groups of people together.

Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson was an American gay liberation activist, drag queen and a prominent figure of the Stonewall riots. Not only did she exist at the cross-section of many oppressed identities, she also contributed to the increased solidarity in the LGBTQ movements. She was one of the many trans women of color who brought themselves into the secret world of gay men to create solidarity in the political movement. This unity was specifically important during the Stonewall Riots. Her work includes “working on behalf of homeless street youth ostracized by their families for being gay or otherwise not conforming to traditional ideas about gender; and, later, for her advocacy on behalf of AIDS patients.” Johnson fought for those who were black, queer, gender-nonconforming, poor and disabled because that’s who she was.

William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison was an abolitionist, suffragist and social reformer. Garrison was one of the most radical men of his time, but what is interesting is that he fought for both the rights of women and people of color. Today, too many people say revolutions cannot happen because revolutionaries ask for too much. But, this is exactly the point of revolution, to make things better for everyone. The Democrat party, specifically, is guilty of using rights of certain people as bargaining chips to gain small wins. This is not to say that reform is unimportant, but that, as William Lloyd Garrison shows, it is possible to fight and win changes for a lot of people.