NFL protest may be unpopular now, but might not end up that way

Marches for civil rights during the 1960s were generally seen negatively at the time. As the Washington Post noted last year, most Americans didn’t approve of the Freedom Riders, the March on Washington in 1963 or other similar protests. In fact, many Americans thought that they would hurt the advancement of civil rights. Not only that, but many Americans held mixed-to-negative views of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. In a 1966 Gallup survey, 63 percent of Americans gave King a negative score on a scale from -5 to +5. Now, the civil rights marches are viewed as major successes, and just 4 percent of Americans rated King negatively on that same scale in a 2011 Gallup poll.

Many Americans also viewed gay rights marchers during the AIDS epidemic negatively. According to Business Insider, the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation in April 1993 drew more than 800,000 people fighting against discrimination and for more funding for AIDS research. But in a Newsweek survey conducted at the time, only 23 percent of Americans thought that the demonstration did more good than harm in the fight for gay rights. Today, gay rights organizations celebrate the march, same-sex marriage is legal and much of the platform demanded by protesters seems mainstream.