Throughout the history of our country, white people have beaten, scorned, and lynched blacks for the color of their skin. They were often disrespected and treated terribly if they often met with a white man. Even the famous Declaration of Independence, that stated how every person should get equality, did not apply to blacks. When the fathers of our nation read through the paper, they realized what would happen if black people were considered equal. Riots, protests and even war would take place. So to avoid the situation, they merely pretended that this law would not apply to them. That decision only prolonged the suffering that blacks beared, delaying their rights to freedom and justice. It was a time of darkness and unlawful discrimination. This situation might have been a norm for today if the people did not raise the issue using their voices. It was only thanks to the words of change that allowed this problem to be challenged.
Rosa Parks’ contribution towards ending was through words of peace. She spoke calmly about freedom and equality as an answer to racism. On December 1st, 1955, Parks had been through an exhausting day of work and got on a bus. However, when she sat down, a white man got on. The man ordered her to get up from the seat and stand at the back of the bus because all the seats were filled. But she held her ground and remained at her spot. The man got irritated and told the driver. The driver told Parks the same thing, but she still refused. He then took action by calling the police. She was arrested and jailed for 4 days. This act of injustice was heard throughout the states. Black people stopped riding the bus as an act of defiance until they got equal treatment. The bus industry relied on blacks because most white people rode in cars.
So when blacks stopped riding the bus, lots of money was lost and the bus industry enforced fair treatment laws for black people. Rosa Parks made her statement by showing everyone that she was a symbol for resistance towards segregation. She says, “Each person must live their life as a model for others.” Rosa Parks was a model for her people by standing up for justice and showing no fear, even in the face of possible death.
Martin Luthur King Jr. was one of the most influential men in the history of our country. His motivation carried many others on the path of racial equality. His words did indeed inspire change, but how he did it, was the question. 1963, was a year of change. Change from the old ways of treatment. Change from racism and social injustice. Change from a system of hierarchy to a new path. A path of fairness. MLK knew the words written by the fathers of the nation which he referred to in his famous, I Have a Dream speech: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”(18) “All men,” meant whites as well as blacks living together in a peaceful community. That was King’s dream. He used the ancient words in his own speech to truly inspire the people.
However, it was not only King’s words that changed their minds, but the truth in the words that did. He wanted a place that everyone could live in fairness and equality. So his plan was to react non-violently to the situation. He would not fight fire with fire, but rather, fire with water. He would diffuse the situation and have it stop in a peaceful manner without having to fight back. This would be a much simpler and calmer approach to an agreement. But, opposition such as the KKK who had a deep hatred for blacks could not be changed. King focused on the white moderate, or the people with neutral ideas on blacks and whites. They were the toughest because they could be swayed to either side. King even mentioned this in his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail”:
“I have reached the regretable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride towards freedom is not the White’s Citizen Council or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action” who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”(King 278)
He was trying to tell the clergymen that white moderates were on the same side of equality, but refused to participate in any of the protests for freedom by saying it was not yet time. For the blacks, waiting, meant never. That is why they were using motivation to inspire the white moderate to change. King was really successful and contributed to a big portion of the Civil Rights movement. He used the power of nonviolence and direct action to show how unfair this country really was.
Bob Moses is known for contributing to Civil Rights during the turning point of the movement. He was a well-known activist who took segregation seriously and did everything to end it. In 1964, almost all the states had become anti-segregation. But, there was still Mississippi. This state was the capital of segregation. The biggest problem was the voting system. Tests were made extremely difficult and impossible to complete, countless registrations were denied, and the people who managed to vote, were beaten up or killed. Mississippi had no concept of justice. But it was up to Moses to change that. He, along with many others built a camp named “Freedom Summer.” People would volunteer to help teach black people different lessons including how to take a beating. This camp housed many unfortunate blacks who were very grateful. As these camps taught, people had to take risks, including Moses himself. He even said, “I justify myself because I’m taking risks myself, and I’m not asking people to do things I’m not willing to do . . .
If you are going to do anything about it, other people are going to be killed.”(Bob Moses) He often told the volunteers that these were dangerous times and that there were risks of getting killed. It was their choice whether to stay or go. He said this because he himself was worried about the dangers. But so many were inspired that they did not budge. He built organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, and COFO, the Council of Federated Organizations. It took a lot out of him to continuously push for Civil Rights. One of his sayings were, “There is a weariness… From the constant attention to the things you are doing, the struggle against good and evil.”(Bob Moses) As time went on, Moses soon grew to be an important figure who helped change Mississippi for the better. He inspired change using words and direct action.
All of the historical figures that we now know as heroes are each special for their contribution to a certain cause. Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King. Jr, and Bob Moses all contributed in large ways using their words and their actions. They each made their say in the conflict, but they also put effort into their actions to solve it.