Influential People that Fought for Equality and Justice

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Influential People That Fought for Equality and Justice

Racism has been an issue for many years and still seems to control people today. Many believe that racism was gone once slavery was abolished. The truth is that racism has been an topic that has not yet been handled. There have been multiple blacks that have helped break the ice for blacks to receive equal treatment and they are the reason why there has been a major progress at equality. Martin Luther king jr, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali all were influential people that led many blacks through inequality and racism.

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These four were a pivot to the way blacks was treated. They all fought against racism by using the idea of nonviolence or by not retaliating.

Martin Luther King jr. was a minister at a Baptist church. King was fighting to equality and wanted to receive human rights for African Americans. Born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta Georgia, King accomplished many things in his short years of life. He married a young lady by the name of Coretta Scott King and they had four children. King put his life on the line to give blacks a true opportunity to have a chance at an equal life. There were many events that king led and made a lot of whites uncomfortable and mad. Being the driving force of events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and multiple nonviolent protest marches is what made King standout. His motive for pushing for equal rights for blacks through marches and protest was the reason the Civil Rights Movement peaked. Despite getting his house bombed and getting attacked many times, King still believed fighting for blacks’ equality using nonviolence was the best way to approach the problem. King knew that retaliation and fighting back against whites would not bring forth the answer that blacks were looking for but would only bring on more pain and suffering.

King was influential leader to the Civil Rights Movement and made whites a lot more comfortable with it. Because King used a nonviolent tone when he was fighting for equal rights, The government of the United States was more likely to take in consideration to pass the movement. King became leader of a bus boycott, after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. This protest lasted nearly 13 months and eventually forced the U.S. Supreme Court to make segregation unconstitutional on the buses. King knew that there would be sacrifices that his people would have to make if they wanted the issues to end. According to the article by Frank Olito King said “Now it means sacrificing, yes, it means sacrificing at points. But there are some things that we’ve got to learn to sacrifice for.”

After king became the president of the Montgomery Improvement Association and became a national spotlight for blacks in America he used that platform to shine light on the issues and problems that blacks were having to deal with.

Martin Luther King jr. did impact the world through his protest and teaching of nonviolence but was a lot more influential through his speeches. King had multiple speeches that were significant to blacks receiving equal treatment. Through these speeches made many white supporters of King’s belief and protest. King challenged many of these white ministers to take control of their congregation and preach equality. King’s popular “I Have a Dream speech” is considered as one of the best speeches. King delivered his speech at the Lincoln Memorial. King was preaching that everybody was created equal and that it did not matter the color of someone’s skin or the economic background that someone has. He believed everyone should still be treated fairly and given the same opportunities.This speech brought many whites and blacks to the understanding of brotherhood. Martin Luther King’s non-violence leadership was gaining supporters all across the country and was giving the Civil Rights some momentum.

The sit-in movement was started from young college students. The sit-in movement was used to as another peaceful protest. African Americans used this as a strategy to help gain more rights and equality. The first sit-in happened in Greensboro, North Carolina. According to “”, When service was refused, the students sat patiently. Despite threats and intimidation, the students sat quietly and waited to be served.” The sit-in movement would eventually boost up the support behind the Civil Rights Movement. Majority of the South of the country adopted the idea and it began to spread through many different cities and states and African Americans would sit in the white section at local restaurants.. According to Aldon Morris’s “Black Southern Sit-in Movement”, “The Greensboro sit-ins across the South at an incredible pace.” The sit-in idea was an successful idea that helped African Americans get olutions to unanswered racial and discrimination issues that were occuring before this movement.

Rosa Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama on February 4, 1913. Rosa was a forty-two year old woman when she was arrested. Some may argue that the Civil Rights Movement started because of the Brown v. Board of Education case. The Brown v. Board of Education did play a big role in helping blacks get more opportunities and make more issues noticeable to whites that were in control of the United States such as Dwight D. Eisenhower. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give her seat up on a bus for a white man. Rosa Parks ended up being arrested for not giving her seat up. Rosa Parks ignited the Montgomery Bus Boycott that would later give Martin Luther King a opportunity to give him a chance to become more involved in the fight for equal rights. Rosa Parks being arrested influenced others to blacks to get involved in the movement.

There were people who helped break the barrier of inequality and racism in ways that did not include protesting, delivering speeches, sit-ins, and refusing to give up there seat. There was people who did not help create movements and groups to stand up against racism. There was people that was influential in their own way and took a stand through events that they were famous for. Sports helped break the ice on discrimination and these athletes used their sport and platform to help bring equality to African Americans. Jackie Robinson was a African-American baseball that became the first black to play Major League Baseball. He was a phenomenal athlete, playing four sports at UCLA. Not only did he play four sports but became the first athlete that won varsity letters in all four sports according to Bob Amour. Jackie Robinson had to face many challenges and struggles through his career. Robinson not only faced these issues from other teams but also on his own team as his teammates were slow to accept him as a African American playing in the Major League. Robinson’s career showed us how brave he was not only as a baseball player but also as an African American in the society of Americans. Jackie Robinson was abused from fans and other teams and also received threats against him and his family. Robinson used to get multiple threats explaining what whites would do to him and his family if he stepped on the field to play again. Jackie Robinson dealt with racial taunts and would often get spiked and be stepped on by other players. During the ball games it might have seen as Robinson’s worst problems and challenges happened on the field but, many he had to go through many other problems off the field. He consistently was discriminated by almost every white person. When the team stayed in hotels, Robinson was not allowed to stay in the same hotel as the team. Robinson was not allowed to eat with the team all the time, he was forced to eat in his room and keep distance from whites while off the field.

Jackie Robinson was not even the best African American that played in the negro league. There were a handful of guys that was just a good or better than Robinson. Ball Players by the names of Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston was some players that basically owned the game of baseball based of their stats. But They were not capable to handle the hate and threats from white people if they were to enter into the Major League. What made Robinson stand out from other negro players was his character. Robinson had courage and was not afraid to make sacrifices for the improvement of treatment towards African Americans. According to Patrick Henry’s, “JACKIE ROBINSON: ATHLETE AND AMERICAN PAR EXCELLENCE”, “He had charisma, self-respect, courage, and conviction. In addition, he had already competed against white athletes in college, had been an officer in the Army, and seemed to have the strength of character to endure the unbearable for the advancement of his race.” Robinson would go on to succeed in the Major League and continue to break racial barriers and walls through great ball play on the field and humility off the field. Jackie Robinson changed the game so much. Jackie would make plays that were not yet seen in the Major League and if it was there was no player that consistently made them plays. Jackie Robinson made the game of baseball look so easy and effortless. A game that was once segregated and discriminated was slowly coming to and end. Jackie Robinson put an end to baseball but also rebirthed it. Robinson would later gain support from many people in the Major league not just blacks but also whites. People who would once make threats and racial slurs was now cheering for the African American ballplayer. Robinson changed history the moment he stepped foot on the same field as an white man. Robinson is the reason why the game of baseball is filled with many African American ball players. Today African American ball players get to play America’s greatest sport without dealing with racial issues because of a man born out of Cairo, Georgia was humble enough to not only play for himself but also the future treatment of African Americans.

Cassius Marcellus Clay jr. was arguably one of the best professional boxers to ever box. He was famously known as “The Greatest”. Muhammad Ali would go through his career being an inspiration to many African Americans and gave them courage and motivation to stand up and fight for their rights. During the draft for the Vietnam war many African American praised Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted into the Vietnam war. He argued that fighting in the war was against is religion beliefs. Cassius Clay jr. was later stripped from his heavyweight title in result of not inducting himself in the war. The Great boxer would be sentenced to some years in prison. According to, “ Editors”, “Sentenced to five years prison, fined $10000 and banned from boxing for three years. The great Muhammad Ali did not think it was right to help America in war. Ali believed that the problem with America was America itself. Muhammad Ali believed that obeying the laws of God which in Ali religion was known as Allah was much more important than obeying the laws of the United States.

Muhammad Ali refused to go to war because he did not want to be apart of the help of the reason why America or more specifically the white man received more power. In Muhammad ali speech about refusing to go to war against Vietnam, he explains how Vietnam never done anything to him and that he would be wrong to join the army and go over there to kill people that were fighting for the same thing he was fighting for which was freedom, equality, and justice. According to Aaron Kesel’s “Muhammad Ali refuses to fight in Vietnam War”, Muhammad Ali said “I will not disgrace my religion, my people, or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting their own justice, freedom and equality.” “The Greatest” believed that not helping the United States fight the Vietnamese was the right thing to do. Muhammad Ali knew that he could not be apart of a group of people that had the intentions to kill and hurt innocent people and did not want to because it make him as bad as the white man that did the same thing to his very own people. Even though Muhammad Ali was a great boxer and is still argued to be the best to ever box, Muhammad Ali’s reason behind him fighting was what made Ali so important in the fight against injustice, the hope of freedom, and to the black people that needed inspiration to say no to the “White Man” of the United States of America. Muhammad Ali’s legacy will be remembered of the great fights he fought but, will be highly praised for his backbone to stand for his beliefs and the blacks people that did not have a platform to help break the ice of racism.

The right to vote should be available to everyone. The right to have an opinion should be available to everyone. Equality and justice should be available to everyone. The color of someone’s skin, the religion of someone, or the ethnicity of someone should not be a factor on the way someone is treated or how they are looked at. As much as we may want to say that everyone is giving a fair chance at life we would by lying to ourselves and the future of our country. A human should be viewed by their character and their attitude. Sadly certain people have been in bondage of injustice, inequality, and racism. For many years African Americans were victims of the misleading treatment of white people and have prevailed the hard times of racism and discrimination. For many years of racism and slavery there was a hope and many prayers for justice and equality and through perseverance and long suffering. There have been people that took a stand to the injustice treatment. This list of names that includes Dr. Martin Luther King jr., Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Cassius Marcellus Clay jr. are the reason why African Americans have been able to come so far in the process of ending racism. The actions of Dr. King, Parks, Robinson and Ali have made them influential blacks that fought for equality to the black society of America.

  1. Kesel, Aaron. “Muhammad Ali Refuses to Fight in Vietnam War.” We Are Change, Aaron Kesel, 4 June 2016,
  2. Aldon Morris, author. “Black Southern Student Sit-in Movement: An Analysis of Internal Organization.” American Sociological Review, no. 6, 1981, p. 744. EBSCOhost,
  3. Olito, Frank. “7 Inspirational Speeches from Martin Luther King Jr. That Aren’t ‘I Have a Dream.’” INSIDER, INSIDER, 16 Jan. 2019, 2:04 PM,
  4. “The Sit-In Movement.”, Independence Hall Association,
  5. Amour, Bob. “Jackie Robinson Attends UCLA.” World History Project,
  6. PATRICK HENRY. “Jackie Robinson: Athlete and American Par Excellence.” The Virginia Quarterly Review, vol. 73, no. 2, 1997, p. 189. EBSCOhost,
  7. Editors, “Muhammad Ali.”, A&E Television Networks, 16 Dec. 2009,”
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Influential People That Fought for Equality and Justice. (2021, May 24). Retrieved from