Of course, Martin Luther King wasn’t the only Civil Rightsactivist who helped achieve equality for Black African Americans. On December 1st1955 Rosa Parks was commuting home by bus, even though most black residents inMontgomery avoided taking the bus as it meant they were forced to follow the ‘Negroes in back’ policy which made them feel humiliated. The policy was a partof the law, as the front of Montgomery buses were reserved for white passengersonly whilst the seats in the back were for African American passengers. Soduring Parks’ bus journey home, the bus driver informed the passengers that thefirst row of the ‘coloured’ section were to be for the white passengers ineffect adding another ‘white’ section because the ‘white’ section of seats wereall taken.
This therefore meant African American passengers who sat in thatfront row were left standing. Whilst the other African American passengersstood up, Parks refused to stand. In Rosa Parks’ autobiography she stated how “Peoplealways say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but this isn’t true.I was not tired physically… No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in”.1In the end, Parks was found guilty of disobeying the segregation laws, and shewas fined 14 dollars. Many people felt sympathy for what Parks had went through,and they decided to organise the Montgomery bus boycott which lasted 381 days.
Howeverthe boycotters went through a lot as many of them were arrested and taken tojail, some were threatened and even King’s home was bombed as mentionedearlier. But regardless of what the boycotters, they still fought for what theybelieved was right. This resulted in the federal district declaring segregatedseating on buses to be unconstitutional. Another civil rights activist is Malcolmlittle, or commonly known as Malcolm X. In 1946, he was sentenced to prison forstealing property and while in prison he became a member of the Nation of Islam.Once he was released from prison he changed his name to Malcolm X in 1952, andhe helped lead the Nation of Islam and he organised temples for the Nation inNew York. Malcolm X organised many temples and he was rewarded with the post ofminister of Temple number 7 in Harlem, which was the second largest templeafter the Chicago headquarters. Elijah Muhammad recognised Malcolm’s talent andhe named him the National Representative of the Nation of Islam (second incommand).
Malcolm was well known for his articulate public speaking at majoruniversities such as Harvard University and the University of Oxford. The majordifference between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King is that whilst King was an advocatefor non-violent methods, Malcolm urged his followers to defend themselves byany means necessary. However Malcolm left the nation in 1964, and embracedSunni Islam the same year he visited Mecca. Malcolm X changed his name to the Muslimname el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, and he shared how he believed that the solutionto racial discrimination in America is Sunni Islam and not the Nation of Islam.
However there was a growing conflict between Malcolm and the Nation, resultingto death threats against Malcolm. On 21st February 1965, Malcolm wasassassinated and three members of Nation of Islam were convicted of the murder.1Rosa Parks’ autobiography