In the month of February let’s take a moment to appreciate those who weren’t fortunate enough to be seen as revolutionary in their time. Here is a list of 5 iconic figures who paved the way towards racial equality to educate yourself on during Black History Month.
After having escaped slavery himself, Frederick Douglass went on to become a very important activist in the abolitionist movement that sought to eradicate slavery. He was a very good and persuasive public speaker, therefore known for his oratory skills and later on for his antislavery writings. In his books, he would describe his experiences as a slave. His writings quickly became best sellers and had people so intrigued and horrified that he became a leader of the abolitionist movement which played an important part in the outbreak of the Civil War. However, his work still had an impact on the later civil rights movements.
Frederick believed in the equality of all people; therefore he also strongly supported the women’s suffrage movement.
One of his most well-known quotes is: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”, which is still true to this day.
Also known as „the first lady of civil rights”, Rosa Parks was a very important figure in the success of the civil rights movement of the 1950s’. She is best known for opposing the segregation according to which white people and black people could not enjoy the same privileges and should not mix together in society, otherwise, they would be fined. However, she decided to boycott this rule and refused to give up her seat when requested to do so because the “whites” section was full. Even though she was not the first person to disobey this rule, but she inspired others to follow in her steps until bus segregation became unconstitutional.
Fannie Lou Hamer
Women in Office is still a very hard achievement to this day. And given the hardships, discrimination, and racism Fannie Lou Hamer had endured she tried her hardest to make a change at the highest level. In 1964 she became the co-founder and vice-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which sought to end the Democratic Party’s attempts to exclude black people from the voting process. Moreover, she helped organize Summer Freedom which brought together young people to help the segregated South register to vote. However, when she announced her candidacy for the Mississippi House of Representatives but was excluded from the elections.
However, she went on to help numerous black farmers with animals and land. Therefore, even though she was put down many times, she never stopped fighting for racial and gender equality.
Booker T. Washington
Former slave himself, Booker T. Washington went on to become a leader for the black community and their rights. Being an amazing orator, he gave the famous “Atlanta compromise” speech in which he called for progress for people of color through education and entrepreneurship, rather than segregation and depriving them of their constitutional rights.
Like a true leader, he brought together people who shared his feelings and desired to develop the economic and educational standards of the community. He later became a very important figure in the political arena of the 19th century which he used to elevate and inspire his plans for a stronger black nation. With his accomplishments, he became a trusted adviser for various US presidents.
Not only was Malcolm a prominent figure in the civil rights movement, but also a supporter and spokesman for the Nation of Islam.
While serving a sentence of 10 years for theft and breaking and entering, he joined the Nation of Islam. After being released he quickly became one of the most influential figures of the movement where he was very outspoken about how problematic the division of races is for the black community and advocated for racial justice. In his pursuit, he brought together the African American and Muslim American communities who both fought for the same goal.
Nowadays, he is remembered through “Malcolm X Day” which is on May 19th as a holiday that is celebrated in various cities across the US.