Illustrations by Josh Lees.

Throughout history, the symbol of the raised fist has stood for unity, resistance, and solidarity. Social activists, leaders, and engaged citizens have used it to protest oppressive social and political ideologies.

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Take Nelson “Madiba” Mandela, for example, the South African president and activist who fought against apartheid. During rallies, speeches, and even the day he was released from prison, Mandela symbolized his struggle for racial equality with a raised fist. That powerful sign has connected black empowerment struggles across decades.

In this visual timeline, we highlight the moments when a powerful symbol opposed injustice.

Get inspired to stand up to injustice by tuning in to see Madiba, the definitive story of Nelson Mandela (played by Laurence Fishburne), an epic three-night miniseries directed by Kevin Hooks. It premieres Wednesday, Feb. 1, 8pm on BET, just in time for Black History Month. #MadibaBET

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Astrid Harders is a senior writer for Studio@Gizmodo.

This post is a sponsored collaboration between BET and Studio@Gizmodo.