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Top Ten Petitions That Changed 2020

Change.org published its Top U.S. Petition Lists for various categories, including Top 10 Petitions That Changed 2020, Top 10 Victories, Top 10 Changemakers of 2020, and the Top 5 Changemakers Under 20 in 2020. A historic year of activism led to a massive 46% increase in petition creation, an incredible 208.5% increase in petition signatures overall, and a 62% increase in declared victories on the platform.

This year, petitions calling for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain broke records, with all three becoming Change.org’s most-signed petitions of all time. Overall, petitions calling for racial justice were the biggest movement on Change.org in 2020, with over 63,000 petitions created with over 184.7 million signatures. COVID-19 led the second biggest trend in petition creation and signatures, with over 130,000 petitions created in the U.S. with over 98.4 million signatures across them – including a massive petition signed by 2 million calling for PPE for all medical professionals on the front lines of the pandemic.

A number of campaigns became victories in 2020 – from putting a nurse on President-Elect Biden’s COVID-19 task force, to calling for Biden to appoint a Native American leader to his cabinet as Interior Secretary, and for hospitals to allow laboring people to have a support person in the delivery room. WNBA icon Maya Moore started a successful petition to free an innocent man, Jonathan Irons – who later became her fiance, in one of the most heartwarming stories of 2020. Other major victories include a ban on FGM/C in Massachusetts, Ruth’s Chris returning their PPP funds after public outcry, Disney renaming Splash Mountain, and a pardon from MI Governor Whitmer for domestic violence survivor Tina Talbot, after she was sentenced for killing her abusive husband.

“2020 has been a historic year in many ways, and it was no different on our platform. Hundreds of millions of Americans came to Change.org to sign petitions on the most important issues affecting them this year,” said Michael Jones, Managing Director of Campaigns at Change.org. “The massive growth in petition creation, signatures, and more victories than ever before make us feel truly honored that so many changemakers came to Change.org to make an impact on the world in a tumultuous 2020.”

 

TOP TEN PETITIONS THAT CHANGED 2020

  1. Justice for George Floyd (19 million signatures): With over 19 million signatures, people all over the world joined together to fight for racial justice after the murder of George Floyd. Started by 15-year-old Kellen S.,it became the biggest petition and movement in Change.org’s history. It also spurred a valued collaboration with the George Floyd Foundation, debuting a three-dimensional hologram of George Floyd in Richmond, Virginia to temporarily replace confederate statues.
  2. Justice for Breonna Taylor (11.4 million): Loralei HoJay, a student, knew she had to do something when she learned of the tragic killing of Breonna Taylor, shot in her bed by Louisville police due to the use of controversial no-knock warrants. Her petition calling for Justice for Breonna Taylor quickly gained over 11.4 million signatures, and led to Kentucky billboard campaigns and a national movement to ban no-knock warrants.
  3. Justice for Elijah McClain (5.6 million): Saraya Hamidi was outraged when she heard about Elijah’s McClain’s murder by Aurora, CO police. She started an Instagram page and then led a Change.org petition which amassed 5.6 million supporters demanding justice.
  4. Justice for Ahmaud Arbery (3.9 million): One of the first racial justice petitions to go viral on Change.org, it took two months after Ahmaud Arbery’s murder by three white men during a run for his killers to be arrested. The petition became a symbolic outpouring of emotion as the nation and racial justice organizations pushed for justice for Ahmaud and his family – and in June charges were filed against his killers.
  5. Kobe Bryant NBA logo (3.2 million): In January, the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant shocked the country – and the world. 16-year-old Nick M. started a petition asking the NBA to honor Bryant’s contributions by using his silhouette in an updated version of the logo. His tribute made headlines, and the player who is current NBA logo silhouette, Jerry West, said he was open to the idea.
  6. KKK Designated As Terrorist Organization (3.1 million): Jose Cardenas thought it was ridiculous that an organization known for terrorizing Black Americans hadn’t been declared a terrorist organization. His petition gained over 3.1 million signatures, becoming a part of the national dialogue. In September,  President Trump even said he was considering it.
  7. PPE for Medical Professionals (2 million): As the pandemic began to escalate earlier this year, a trio of physicians launched a petition pleading for additional PPE amidst a national shortage. Their petition hit 2 million signatures and made national headlines.
  8. Emergency Money (2 million): Denver restaurant owner Stephanie Bonin feared for her financial future, as restrictions on restaurants affected her livelihood and that of millions of Americans. She started her push for $2,000/mo emergency stimulus checks for every American – and her fight continues as Congress works on a new stimulus deal.
  9. Save the USPS (1.5 million): As news broke that the U.S. Postal Service’s funding was in danger, Mike Hidalgo started a petition calling for Americans to #SavetheUSPS. His petition quickly garnered over 1.5 million signatures, and continues to gain momentum around upcoming bills.
  10. Student Loan Debt Cancellation (800,000): One of the fastest-growing petitions on the platform this year has been one calling for President-elect Biden to cancel student loan debt. Alan Collinge, co-founder of the grassroots organization Student Loan Justice, has rallied his supporters around the idea of debt cancelation as an economic stimulus to turn around the COVID-19 recession: his proposal would inject trillions into the economy without raising taxes or adding to the national debt.

 

TOP TEN PETITION VICTORIES THAT CHANGED 2020

  1. Nurse on Covid Task Force: Nurse Theresa Brown thought it was strange that the Biden COVID-19 taskforce didn’t include a single nurse, despite their role on the frontlines of the pandemic. After intense campaigning by Brown and her fellow nurses, the transition team announced the addition of a nurse to the task force.
  2. Ruth’s Chris PPP FundsAfter news broke that major chains like Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Potbelly had accepted PPP funding meant for small businesses, and that funding was running low, J. Howard started a petition calling for Ruth’s Chris to give the money back. After massive media coverage, Ruth’s Chris Steak House returned the funds, freeing them up for small businesses as intended.
  3. Massachusetts FGM/C BanMariya Taher, a survivor of FGM/C herself, was upset to learn her home state was one of only a handful without a ban on the harmful practice. Her campaign ultimately culminated in a ban state-wide, and she’s continued her efforts through her work at Sahiyo for other state bans, including CT.
  4. Free Jonathan IronsWNBA star Maya Moore left her basketball career to seek justice for her friend Jonathan Irons, who was wrongfully convicted as a teenager. With Maya’s persistence and the support of 270K others, Jonathan was freed and the couple married this year.
  5. Child Poverty Debate QuestionPresidential candidates hadn’t been asked a question about child poverty for 20 years. Israel Glenn and the Children’s Defense Fund started a petition campaign calling for candidates to speak on the issue during a presidential debate. In February, the question was raised at a Democratic debate – and directly mentioned the Children’s Defense Fund’s campaign.
  6. Pardon for Tina: Tina Talbot, a domestic abuse survivor, shot her abusive husband in self-defense and was sentenced to prison. Her supporters started a petition calling for MI Gov. Whitmer to pardon Tina – and just one month ago, she was reunited with her son.
  7. Justice for Ahmaud Arbery: One of the first racial justice petitions to go viral on Change.org, it took two months after Ahmaud Arbery’s murder by three white men during a run for his killers to be arrested. The petition became a symbolic outpouring of emotion as the nation and racial justice organizations pushed for justice for Ahmaud and his family – and in June charges were filed against his killers.
  8. Native American Secretary of the Interior: After the 2020 presidential election, Patrick Manning of Arlington, MA started a petition asking President-elect Joe Biden to appoint a Native American leader to his cabinet as Secretary of the Interior, a role responsible for overseeing the nation’s public lands and upholding our obligations to Native communities. Just one month later, Patrick declared victory when Biden announced he will appoint New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland, who is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and, if confirmed, will be the first Indigenous person to lead the department.
  9. Renaming Splash Mountain: Starter Alex O. learned that Disney’s Splash Mountain log flume ride was inspired by Disney’s Song of the South, a movie known for its racist stereotypes – and removed from Disney’s library by the brand itself. Alex started a petition calling for Disney to rebrand the ride, suggesting The Princess and the Frog as a less problematic theme. Alex’s petition went viral, and Disney announced that they were reimagining Splash Mountain.
  10. COVID-19 NY Laboring Rights: Jessica Pournanas, a labor and postpartum doula, was shocked to learn that NYC hospitals weren’t allowing support persons in the delivery room with laboring people. After massive media attention, Governor Cuomo signed executive orders protecting the rights of laboring individuals and allowing them to have support persons by their side.

 

2020’S TOP CHANGEMAKERS

  1. Kellen S., Justice for George FloydA 15-year-old student from Oregon who is passionate about equal rights for all. Her petition for George Floyd became the biggest petition and movement in Change.org’s history.
  2. Loralei HoJay, Justice for Breonna Taylor: A 19-year-old student from Fort Lee, NJ whose petition calling for Justice for Breonna is the second-largest petition and movement in Change.org’s history.
  3. Saraya Hamidi, Justice for Elijah McClain: Saraya is a recent college grad who channeled her outrage about the unjust death of Elijah McClain into the Instagram account @JusticeForElijahMcClain, which she uses to uses to amplify the voices of Black organizers within the movement with the blessing of Sheneen McClain, Elijah’s mother. She went on to lead the Justice for Elijah petition on Change.org, where she works with more than 5.6 million supporters to pressure officials into holding the officers who killed Elijah accountable.
  4. Mariya Taher, Ban FGMMariya Taher, a survivor of FGM/C herself, was upset to learn her home state was one of only a handful without a ban on the harmful practice. Her campaign ultimately culminated in a ban state-wide, and she’s continued her efforts through her work at Sahiyo for other state bans, including CT.
  5. Laurie Giordano, Zach’s Law: After a Florida mother tragically lost her son, Zach, to an Exertional Heat Stroke (EHS) during summer conditioning for his football team, she learned that it could have been prevented – and made it her mission to make sure no other parents would lost their child to EHS in Florida. In June, her petition led to Florida legislation that will require schools to have cooling zones, unlimited hydration and life-saving procedures and action plans to save students’ lives from EHS.
  6. Dr. Daihnia Dunkley, Nurse on COVID Task ForceAs a nurse leader and Founder of The League of Extraordinary Black Nurses (LEBN), a nonprofit nursing organization, Dr. Dunkley believed it was a loss for there not to be a nurse on Biden’s Task Force.
  7. Theresa Brown, Nurse on COVID Task ForceNurse Theresa Brown thought it was strange that the Biden COVID-19 taskforce didn’t include a single nurse, despite their role on the frontlines of the pandemic. After intense campaigning by Brown and her fellow nurses, including Dr. Dunkley, the transition team announced the addition of a nurse to the task force.
  8. Maya Moore, Free JonathanWNBA star Maya Moore left her basketball career to seek justice for her friend Jonathan Irons, who was wrongfully convicted as a teenager.
  9. Jessica Pournanas, Laboring Rights Petition: Pournanas, a labor and postpartum doula, was shocked to learn that NYC hospitals weren’t allowing support persons in the delivery room with laboring people. After massive media attention, Governor Cuomo signed executive orders protecting the rights of laboring individuals and allowing them to have support persons by their side.
  10. Stephanie Bonin, Emergency Money: Restaurateur Stephanie Bonin owns duo Restaurant with her husband in Denver and started a viral petition for $2,000/mo emergency stimulus checks.

 

2020’S TOP CHANGEMAKERS UNDER 20

  • Kellen S., Justice for George FloydA 15-year-old student from Oregon who is passionate about equal rights for all. Her petition for George Floyd became the biggest petition and movement in Change.org’s history.
  • Loralei HoJay, Justice for Breonna Taylor: A 19-year-old student from Fort Lee, NJ whose petition calling for Justice for Breonna is the second-largest petition and movement in Change.org’s history.
  • Saraya Hamidi, Justice for Elijah McClainSaraya is a recent college grad who channeled her outrage about the unjust death of Elijah McClain into the Instagram account @JusticeForElijahMcClain, which she uses to uses to amplify the voices of Black organizers within the movement with the blessing of Sheneen McClain, Elijah’s mother. She went on to lead the Justice for Elijah petition on Change.org, where she works with more than 5.6 million supporters to pressure officials into holding the officers who killed Elijah accountable.
  • Trevor Wilkinson, Nail Polish Discrimination: Wilkinson, a 17-year-old Texas teen, was suspended by his school for wearing nail polish. Furious at what he considered a discriminatory double standard, Wilkinson started a petition with almost 400,000 signatures and has taken his fight to the school board.
  • Israel Glenn, Child Poverty Debate: 18-year-old Israel Glenn, a survivor of child poverty, started a petition in coordination with  the Children’s Defense Fundcalling for candidates to speak on the issue during a presidential debate. In February, the question was raised at a Democratic debate – and directly mentioned the Children’s Defense Fund’s campaign.
  • Nikyar Moghtader, Kobe Bryant NBA Logo: In January, the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant shocked the country – and the world. 16-year-old Nick M. started a petition asking the NBA to honor Bryant’s contributions by using his silhouette in an updated version of the logo. His tribute made headlines, and the player who is current NBA logo silhouette, Jerry West, said he was open to the idea.

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