The events that produced the modern Civil Rights Movement - Essay Example The case has never been perfectly clear, but it seems that Till had told several of his African-American friends in Mississippi that back home in Chicago he had a white girlfriend - they did not believe him and so dared him to speak to a white woman while out in public. Whether Till actually spoke, or whether he whistled at a married white woman while in a grocery store in unclear, but the repercussions are unambiguous (Ownby 151). The boy was murdered because of his apparent audacity in addressing a white woman, and the death shocked people all over the country. Mere months later, Rosa Parks found lasting fame and reverence because of her refusal to give up her seat on a city bus to a white passenger. At this time, segregation existed on buses and an African-American was not allowed to take the front seat of a bus, particularly if there was a white passenger who needed to sit down. Parks' civil disobedience led to the formation of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which lasted for months and ultimately culminated in the 1956 decision of Alabama courts to rule that bus segregation is unconstitutional. Parks was always the first to downplay her role in the modern civil rights movement, but the truth is that her disregard for discriminatory practices influenced the entire African-American population to rethink their own attitudes towards segregation and low social standing (Burns 87-90). Following the murder of Emmitt Till, African-Americans were, on the whole, very angry, frightened and confused about what steps needed to be taken to ensure their future safety and success in the nation. Rosa Parks unwittingly gave all these disenfranchised people a look at how simple individual protest could be used to really make a difference where it mattered the most. The Montgomery Bus Boycott not only influenced a nation, but it specifically had a great effect on someone who would prove to be an invaluable member of the modern civil rights movement: Martin Luther King Jr. King Jr. took a leadership role in the Bus Boycott and from this starting point became an omnipresent figure in most aspects of the African-American civil rights movement in America. His most famed contribution to the movement was his "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered in 1963 during the March on Washington. King envisioned a time when society would welcome its diverse people together as one, treat every person as both an individual and an equal, and put an end to discrimination and segregation laws in America and worldwide (Ralph Jr. 29-36). The ideals and actions of Martin Luther King Jr. were essentially fundamental to the modern civil rights movement and because of this, African-Americans were ultimately inspired to take up the causes he fought for after he was murdered in Tennessee in 1968. The death of this great leader of the civil rights movement was a great shock to the entire country, but it was in many ways the final catalyst that African-Americans needed to realize that enough was enough in terms of discrimination and
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