African-Americans almost always take the lead in calling out racism in the Western world. After enduring centuries of exploitation and slavery, these people continue to pave the way towards a greater expression of equality among every ethnicity. You may have heard of some of them before, but here’s Only Biography’s refresher on several iconic African-Americans throughout history:
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)
Frederick Douglass was the pioneer of the abolitionist movement in the United States. Abolitionism is the call to action for the government and citizens to put an end to slavery across the country. Douglass became famous for his antislavery writings and oratory. He used his own experiences as a slave as his motivation to advocate for racial equality.
As a diplomat, he believed in engaging in dialogues with people who want to make a positive impact in the US, regardless of whether they were slave owners or fellow African-Americans. Because of his intellect, he was appointed to various government posts. He also managed to reconcile with his former slave owner before he died.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a minister and activist known for his ‘I have a dream’ speech which advocated for the end of racial discrimination. It is believed he was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi in pushing for equality, as shown by his nonviolent resistance against segregationist authorities. This move led to him winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
King has also expressed his opposition towards poverty, capitalism, and the Vietnam War. It was during one of these campaigns that he was assassinated. The United States mourned his death but some took to the streets and rioted to express their anger.
Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
Maya Angelou was a civil rights activist who was also known for her magnificent poems and performances as an actress. Angelou took part in the civil rights movement in the US where she met Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. She published numerous books that talk about racism, family, and identity.
Angelou travelled to Europe and Africa to pursue different careers while advocating for equality. When she returned to the US to come to terms with her past, she was welcomed with the Reynolds Professorship of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Rosa Parks is known for her role in the Montgomery bus boycott which became one of the foundations of the civil rights movement in the US. The boycott started when Parks was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white person. She was found guilty later on, sparking an appeal and riots leading up to a well-known sporting event.
Parks’ case, as well as other instances of racial segregation in the public transport system in Montgomery, Alabama, led the US Supreme Court to rule that assigning bus seats that separated white people from black people are unconstitutional.
Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)
Muhammad Ali is known among sports fans as one of the greatest boxers of all time. However, he was also an activist who pushed for racial equality and against the Vietnam War. In fact, he was stripped of his boxing title due to his refusal to be drafted into the US Army to fight in Vietnam.
Ali became one of the targets of the FBI for its operation to spy on critics of the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, the suspension of Ali’s boxing licence gained him sympathy from black people across the United States, despite the media antagonising him for inciting civil disobedience.
Advocating for racial equality remains a well-respected endeavour for people all over the world. If not for the efforts of brave men and women such as the ones on this list, the fight against discrimination will never be as impassioned as most people notice today. The bravery shown by the aforementioned African-Americans are something worth emulating by people who want to break free from racial stereotypes.
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