Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968
One of the most influential historical figures of the United States, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the many leading activist who helped bring awareness to a nation for its inhuman treatment forced upon a minority population. One of his most famous political moves to achieve racial equality was in 1955 by leading the Montgomery bus boycott in response to the arrest of Rosa Parks. This boycott ended a practice that made it illegal for people of color to sit in the front of the bus and gave white passengers the right to take a seat occupied by a black passenger if the bus was full. The boycott was effective due to the corporation of its participants by either walking or carpooling. After this Dr. King was able to cement himself in American history by delivering his famous I have a Dream, speech in August 28, 2963. A speech so revered that every child is taught it in grade school. Many of his actions helped to improve the lives of people of African heritage and to improve race relations within the country. For his actions Dr. King was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in October 14, 1964 and was posthumously awarded both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
January 17, 1942 - June 3, 2016
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., Muhammad Ali is best known for his impressive boxing carrier and is a household name to those who do not even enjoy the sport. However, he is also famous for his refusal to fight in a war that he had seen as unjust and for a country that he saw as oppressive. This event took place in March of 1966 when Ali refused to be drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. As a result he was exiled but came back later to face the United States government in a legal battle over his refusal to fight. While this action is legally a crime, he had used this slight against him to point out the growing racial inequality within his own country. This legal battle with the United States government helped fuel the fire that was building against the war. Due to his actions he was invited to speak in colleges all across the country. Where he advocated for the improvement of black Americans and denounced the Vietnam War.
Fred T. Korematsu
January 30, 1919 - March 30, 2005
An example of how diverse the United States is, Fred T. Korematsu was a political and social activist who spoke out against the internment of Japanese citizen during the Second World War. Korematsu is one of the least known activist within the country, why this is can be anyone’s guess, but he was a cause of a lot of headaches within the judicial system. His resistance to Order 9066 included plastic surgery and a complete overhaul of his name, changing it to Clyde Sarah professing to be of Spanish and Hawaiian heritage. While he was eventually captured and tired for resisting the order he continued to argue for his rights that had been stolen from him by his government. While he was not a lawyer Korematsu often stood out in the courts system with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) in the hopes of returning the rights to the many Japanese Americans who had them stolen from them with the start of the Second World War. While the war ended and Japanese American were able to return to some form of normality, Korematsu still fought so that the United States would recognize that they had committed a wrong. It was not until 1988 president Reagan proclaimed that Order 9066 and the resulting treatment of Japanese Americans was unconstitutional and recompanced all Japanese Americans who had endured during the war. Korematsu was awarded the the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton in 1998. After his death in 2005 Korematsu’s birthday was declared as a day of remembrance for his actions.