movements in american history


January 15th 1929: Martin Luther King Jr. born

On this day in 1929, the future civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Born as Martin King, he and his father changed their names in honour of Protestant reformer Martin Luther. King entered the ministry in his twenties and first came to national attention for his leadership of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. This event is considered by many to be the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, which saw a national struggle to end discrimination against African-Americans. King was one of many leaders, but became the face of the movement for his nonviolent tactics and powerful oratory. In 1963, during the March on Washington, King delivered the crowning speech of the movement - the ‘I have a dream’ speech. Beyond his role in combating racial inequality, King also focused on tackling poverty and advocating peace, especially during the Vietnam War. On April 4th 1968, King was shot and killed by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee. He lived to see the legislative achievements of the movement - the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act - but tragically was unable to continue the push for full equality. The movement King set in motion continues to be fought today; the United States is still not a completely equal society and systemic discrimination persists. However, thanks to Martin Luther King, America is closer to fulfilling King’s dream of a truly free and equal society. Since 1986, a national Martin Luther King Day is celebrated on the third Monday in January.

Today would have been his 88th birthday


The 1960s were an awfully turbulent time.


1. First man on the moon.

2. Vietnamese children running from the site of a napalm attack.

3. MLK in the march from Selma to Montgomery.

4. The self immolation of a Buddhist monk in protest of governmental anti-buddhist policies in South Vietnam.

5. Flowers are placed on the bayonets at an anti-war protest, otherwise known as “flower power”.

6. Woodstock music festival, attended by an estimated half million people.

7. The Beatles

8. Marilyn Monroe, who died August 5th, 1962.

9. President John F. Kennedy.

10. Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in to office after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.


Various paintings by Jacob Lawrence (African-American, 1917 – 2000).

Jacob Lawrence (September 7, 1917 – June 9, 2000) was an African-American painter known for his portrayal of African-American life. But not only was he a painter, storyteller, and interpreter; he also was an educator. Lawrence referred to his style as “dynamic cubism,” though by his own account the primary influence was not so much French art as the shapes and colors of Harlem. 

He brought the African-American experience to life using blacks and browns juxtaposed with vivid colors. He also taught, and spent 15 years as a professor at the University of Washington.

Click on the images for further information: title (year).


December 1st 1955: Rosa Parks on the bus

On this day in 1955, Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old black seamstress from Alabama, refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white man. A member of the NAACP, Parks was returning home from a long day at work when the bus driver ordered her to give up her seat on the full bus for a white man. No stranger to civil rights activism, she was subsequently arrested for civil disobedience in defying the state’s Jim Crow racial segregation laws. Through this act of defiance, Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, during which time African-Americans - under the leadership of a young, charismatic reverend called Martin Luther King Jr. - refused to use the city buses, arguing that they should be integrated per the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. The boycott was successful in forcing Montgomery to end its discriminatory segregation laws, and marked the beginning of the main phase of what is now known as the Civil Rights Movement. From Montgomery, African-Americans across the United States went on to lead sit-ins, freedom rides, and political marches, in an attempt to bring an end to segregation laws which had oppressed their community for so long. These activists were all indebted to Rosa Parks - known as the ‘mother of the Civil Rights Movement’ - for her simple act of defiance, firmly asserting her humanity and her rights as an American citizen. As the movement grew, Parks remained an influential symbol and leader of the movement, which ultimately brought an end to legal segregation and forced Congress to pass the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights Acts. As for Parks herself, the affair of her arrest and the subsequent boycott caused her to lose her job and made her a victim of harassment and threats. She moved to Detriot and in 1965 began to work in the office of Congressman John Conyers. In 1999, Rosa Parks was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for her role in transforming American race relations, and upon her death in 2005 she lay in state at the U.S. Capitol. Today, 60 years on, we remember Rosa Parks’s personal bravery, the successes of the movement she inspired, and the steps yet to be taken as the struggle against systemic racism continues.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day…No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in”

60 years ago today

Alcatraz, 1969

Beginning in 1969, 89 American Indians known as the Indians of All Tribes took over Alcatraz. This occupation of Alcatraz was in direct in protest of the American government’s breaking of the Treaty of Fort Laramie, which promised Native Americans the right to federal land that was no longer in use. This land was no longer in use but the federal government had no intention of handing it over. This occupation would last 19 months, ending in 1971, when the US government forced them out through different tactics. Some sources claim that this occupation was the true birthplace of the Red Power Movement. 


December 29th 1890: Wounded Knee Massacre

On this day in 1890, hundreds of Native Americans were killed by United States government forces at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Tensions between the federal government and the indigenous peoples of America had led to frequent bouts of warfare ever since the country was first colonised by Europeans. These wars became particularly intense during the latter half of the nineteenth century, and despite several key victories for Native Americans - most famously at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 - the federal government increasingly pushed native peoples onto reservations. The government were particularly alarmed by the growing Ghost Dance movement, which was a spiritual movement which prophesised the imminent defeat of the white man and the resumption of the traditional Indian way of life. The movement factored into mounting tensions at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which were exacerbated by the murder of Sioux chief Sitting Bull on December 15th 1890. The situation came to a head fourteen days later, when the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry surrounded a group of Ghost Dancers, under the leadership of Lakota Sioux chief Big Foot, near Wounded Knee Creek in the reservation. During this confrontation, a shot was fired, and the fighting descended into a massacre of Native Americans by the well-equipped army. It is estimated that around 200 people died - nearly half of whom were women and children - though some historians place the number much higher. Only 25 U.S. soldiers were killed, and 20 of the survivors were awarded the Medal of Honor. The Wounded Knee massacre was a pivotal moment in the history of indigenous relations in North America, as it marks the last major confrontation of the Indian wars. The incident also provides a poignant symbol around which Native American activist groups have rallied, providing the title for Dee Brown’s famous history Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970), and becoming the focal point of the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973.

Malcolm X was born today in 1925. Gordon Parks captured this image of him addressing the crowd at a Harlem rally in 1963. The photograph is on view now in From the Collection: 1960–1969

[Gordon Parks. Malcolm X Gives Speech at Rally, Harlem, New York. 1963. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2016 Gordon Parks Foundation]


February 21st 1965: Malcolm X assassinated

On this day in 1965, African-American civil rights leader Malcolm X was assassinated aged 39. Born as Malcolm Little in Nebraska in 1925, his family were forced to relocate when the Ku Klux Klan threatened his father, who was active in the black nationalist movement. Malcolm’s father was ultimately murdered by white supremacists - but the white police insisted it was suicide - and the family disintegrated. The young Malcolm dropped out of school and became involved in crime, eventually going to prison for burglary in 1946. While imprisoned, he was exposed to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, who argued that the white man is the devil and cannot live peaceably with blacks, who should establish a separate black nation. Malcolm was powerfully affected by this ideology, and changed his last name to reject the ‘slave’ name he had been given. After his release from prison, Malcolm X became a preacher in New York, calling for black self-defence against white aggression. His eloquent advocacy of black nationalism and the neccessity of securing civil rights “by any means necessary”, including violence, made him a respected, but also feared, figure. Malcolm X was feared by white and black Americans, as some civil rights activists worried that his more radical message threatened the strategy of non-violence espoused by Martin Luther King Jr.. While his fame contributed to the Nation of Islam’s growing popularity, Malcolm began to split from the organisation, disillusioned by Elijah Muhammad’s hypocrisy and alleged corruption. He formally left the organisation in 1964, and visited Mecca, an experience which tempered his rhetoric and led him to abandon the argument that whites are devils. At this point, Malcolm changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, returning to America influenced by socialism and pan-Africanism and more hopeful for a peaceful resolution to America’s race problems. As he was preparing to speak at a rally for his recently-founded Organisation of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City, Malcolm X was shot 15 times by three members of the Nation of Islam. In death, his legacy loomed large over the civil rights movement, and African-American activists increasingly urged black power for black people. Malcolm X remains one of the most famous and respected figures of the civil rights movement, and his seminal autobiography is considered one of the most important books of the twentieth century.

“We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”

Aren’t we Stronger Together?

Donald Trump is the President-Elect of the United States of America. On November 8, 2016, the American people chose to make history. The American people formed a movement, and this movement will forever shape our country’s perception of the way our political system works moving forward.

When the day began I put on my “Make America Great Again” hat, assuming it would be the last day I could wear it with some sense of justification, and honestly some sense of pride. Because after all, all we’ve been hearing from the liberal media is that Donald Trump wouldn’t have a shot in hell; he would barely get a minority of the votes. My Conservative friends and I hoped he just wouldn’t get his ass handed to him. As I’ve mentioned before I am a student at Stanford University. My peers are, for the majority, Liberal, and my teachers are, for the majority, Liberal.  Stanford presumed Hillary Clinton had this election in the bag. All I heard day in and day out was how Hillary Clinton would win this election in a landslide. And then she didn’t.

279-228. Donald Trump, fair and square, won the election by 51 electoral votes. This has baffled what seems to be every liberal on my Facebook newsfeed. How could so many people vote for Donald Trump? Why would they do that? Don’t they see his flaws?

Let’s be reminded of something. Hillary Clinton began this election with every odd in her favor. She is a member of the establishment, she has incredible political ties, and many years of experience. She’s a woman who has lived in the White House, who has a close relationship with President Obama. She also has a closet full of deleted emails, donor scandals, and distrust from the military. Not to mention she was investigated by the FBI, twice, during her campaign and had an incredibly low trustworthiness rating with the American public.

From the beginning the odds were stacked against Trump. He was everything Hillary Clinton wasn’t. No political experience, no real political connections, and definitely not a member of the Republican establishment. Essentially he was an enormous wild card. He said all the wrong things at all the wrong times. He was honest, he was blunt, and he was a little bit too much for people at times.

So to my Liberal friends, let me offer you my explanation. Let me illustrate to you just how Donald Trump won this election. He listened to the demands of the hardworking Americans of this country; those of whom make up the backbone of our great society. He reached out to women, to people of color, and to people of faith. He highlighted the morality of his family members, putting on display their work ethic and their outstanding character. He reached out to those that he knew were disheartened with the past, unfortunate, eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency. Most importantly, he promised these people change. He offered them a decent shot at a better life. He instilled hope. He reintroduced them to the America dream. His campaign knew of no gimmicks, no scams, nor any corruption.

This is not rocket science. You do not need a Ph.D. from a top University to understand Donald Trump’s formula for success. This is goodhearted, old fashioned, effective American campaigning, and it worked.

Here my Liberal Facebook friends continue: how did Donald Trump win if he only had the white, male vote? Well my Liberal Facebook friends he had more than the male, white vote. He had female votes. He had Latino votes. He had gay votes. In fact, I’m pretty sure he had every category of vote. Donald Trump’s message resonated with a lot of white, male voters, and they do constitute his base-this I will admit. But his message also resonates with a lot of Americans who need something besides a continuation of President Obama’s legacy.  His voters need and want change, and he provides them this opportunity; it’s that simple.

I have seen a lot of outrage in the past twenty -four hours. I have seen a lot of hate speech spewed. I’ve seen students result to violence and anger. I, myself, was bombarded by crass language when one of my sorority sisters discovered I lean right. But what does this accomplish? What does calling me a sexist, a racist, or homophobic accomplish? Nothing. It accomplishes absolutely nothing.

Donald Trump delivered his acceptance speech eloquently and firmly. He promised to work for all Americans, to be a champion for all Americans. His desire is to unify, not to divide; to bring our greater community together, not to polarize further.

So to the Liberals who are upset, I understand. If the tables had been turned I myself would have been upset too. Would I have rioted, or verbally accosted my friend for her beliefs, definitely not, but that is besides the point. The point I’m trying to make here is that if you must you can get mad at the election results, but then you must get over it. It is imperative to the success of our nation that you get over it. Donald Trump will be our President, and that’s not going to change. You say you are a party of acceptance, than accept this change, and move forward. Embrace that the silent majority has spoken, and move forward.  Embrace that the Republicans have taken over Congress, and the White House, and move forward. It’s time to Make America Great Again.