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Protest buttons and ribbons
The most essential right of citizens in a free society is the ability to challenge the decisions and actions of their government and to make their opinions known. The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right to peacefully assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. From local protests to marches on Washington, demonstrations have forced presidents to publicly take stands and clarify positions on issues they often wish to avoid.

 Washington, D.C., World Bank protest sign, 2000
 Anti-Vietnam War protest sign, c. 1973
 Antiabortion protest sign, 1992
 Farmers' protest sign, Washington, D.C., 1978

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National Museum of American History