american-social-activists-essay

Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk was an American politician and the first openly gay elected to public office in California. He started his political activity when his views and way of life had undergone significant changes under the influence of political events in the country and his participation in the counter-culture movement in the 1960s (Hamilton, 2014, p. 66). Milk held liberal views and opposed the government interference in private sexual life. Outstanding oratorical skills of Milk and his ability to charm the audience brought him considerable attention from the media during elections in 1973. His speeches were published in such newspapers as Time and The San Francisco Chronicle and contributed to the protection of gay rights. In 1977, the theme of gay rights became a central leitmotif of Milk’s campaign, and he became the Member of Supervisory Board of San Francisco (Hamilton, 2014, p. 71). Due to his actions, the city law on the protection of the rights of sexual minorities was passed thwarting the attempt to adopt a discriminatory amendment to the California state law called the ‘Briggs Initiative’ (Hamilton, 2014).

Kenneth and Mamie Clark

Kenneth and Mamie were a married couple who explored the attitude of children to the issue of race. In addition, they were well-known activists of the Civil Rights Movement and established the Northside Center for Child Development in Harlem (Hamilton, 2014, p. 126). Kenneth Clark’s testimonies helped to acknowledge racial segregation in public education as unconstitutional. The couple conducted the doll experiment and the coloring test to find out the level of self-hatred in African-American children attending segregated schools in New York and Washington (Hamilton, 2014). The results showed that participants were harmed by segregation and had low self-esteem. The coloring test contributed to the decision in the Brown v. Board of Education case. The African-American children were asked to color different pictures. The results showed that 52% of them wanted their skin to be white (Hamilton, 2014, p. 132). During Clarks’ work in the field of psychology, newspapers and television programs like 60 Minutes invited them to express their opinion on the racial problems in education. Their appearance on television and magazines contributed to the resolving of racial segregation.

Cesar Chavez

Chavez was a Latino-American labor leader and establisher of the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA). He started his human rights activities in the social organization working on the protection of the civil rights of Hispanics (Hamilton, 2014, p. 173). The first major action of the NFWA was the grape pickers’ strike in 1965 and the organization of a boycott of table grapes in the United States. After five years of confrontation, vineyard owners were forced to make concessions, significantly raise wages and improve working conditions. However, Chavez did not stop and continued to fight for the rights of workers; in particular, he held three of the hunger strikes, demanding the major manufacturers to change attitudes to employees (Hamilton, 2014, p. 183). Several national magazines of the time interviewed him, and it made him famous among farm workers in the United States. However, Chavez had never wanted to be on the first pages of newspapers.

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Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King was the most famous activist and fighter for the rights of African-Americans. He was fighting with discrimination, racism, and segregation and became the national icon in the history of the United States. King encouraged African-Americans to struggle for their civil rights and equality using peaceful methods. His speeches caused economic boycotts, marches, and voluntary imprisonments of black people. King organized many campaigns for civil rights aimed at the destruction of segregation in transport, theaters, and restaurants among others. He traveled throughout the country lecturing and was arrested 15 times (Hamilton, 2014, p. 204). Many national channels, not only in the USA but also abroad, translated his conferences and lectures. King’s appearances on television, radio, and newspapers delivered the problems of the African-Americans to the world community (Hamilton, 2014, p. 210). Moreover, he managed to attract attention the media of his time to the issue. Many newspapers depicted cruel methods used by the police against African-Americans. For a significant contribution to the fight against racial prejudice, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

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