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A Sign for the Democracy Movement?

Every movement needs a hand sign, right?

So, what’s the sign of the Democracy Movement? At the Small Planet Institute, that question bugged us…until one of our staffers, a Millennial named Ashley Higgs Hammell, came up with a great idea.

"Why not use the American Sign Language symbol for the letter 'd'?" she asked. To form the sign, you rest all your fingers on your thumb except for the index finger, which is raised. Then lift your arm into the air. The first time I tried it, I immediately heard myself saying inside: “I have something to say!” or “One person, one vote!” or “I count!” or “democracy now!”

The sensation and these messages align, I found. I thought I’d test out Ashley’s suggestion. And soon I had a big chance.

In 2016, I took part in the Democracy Spring march from Philadelphia to the steps of the capitol in Washington, D.C. We were demanding basic democracy reforms to get money out of politics and to protect voting rights. As we sat for hours waiting to be arrested, I had plenty of chance to try out the new hand sign.

It felt so good! I knew a fist in the air was not what I wanted. I wasn’t protesting, I was demanding something positive that the vast majority of Americans want. My hand sign fit perfectly with my message and my feelings.

Try it and let us know what you think. We have stickers with the sign that look good on a shirt or the back of your laptop. We can send you a PDF of a page of stickers you can print out on sticky paper.

We are eager for your thoughts and other suggestions! Email us at

Frances Moore Lappé

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