“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.” These words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. capture his philosophy of nonviolent civil disobedience. He believed this was the best and the only way to achieve the goals of the civil rights movement. Choose at least two events or incidents between the end of World War II and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Explain how each exemplifies Dr. King’s message.

Two events that took place between the end of World War II and the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that exemplify Dr. King’s message are the attempted enrollment of Linda Brown in an Kansas school and Rosa Parks’s sitting in a racially segregated zone of a bus. In both cases, the actions violated laws that supported racial segregation, and in both cases, these individual actions became important stimuli for changing those laws.

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Numerous events that exemplified Dr. King’s message occurred in in the United States between 1945 and 1964. Two relevant events involve an African American individual’s action taken deliberately to challenge segregation. One important action was Oliver Brown’s attempt to enroll his daughter Linda Brown in an all-white school in Topeka, Kansas. In another significant incident in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks deliberately sat in a zone of a bus that was designated “whites only.” These cases, along with countless others, were illegal, because in both cities, existing laws supported policies and practices of segregation, such as the idea of “separate but equal” schools and other facilities. Each of these action was an important event that led to widespread challenges and eventual changes to such laws.

In 1951, when Oliver Brown attempted to enroll Linda in the neighborhood school, the administration refused, because the law required that she attend an all-black school. His effort challenged the idea that maintaining separate schools provided equal opportunity to his child, because she would be forced to travel a mile by bus to the other school. Along with three other families, Brown sued the Topeka Board of Education. The landmark Brown v. Board case, decided by the US Supreme Court, ended the idea of separate-but-equal schools throughout the United States by declaring the concept unconstitutional.

In 1955, Rosa Parks sat in a whites-only section of a Montgomery, Alabama bus and refused to move when a white patron demanded her seat. Parks was removed from the bus and arrested. These events provided the incitement for a city-wide bus boycott that lasted just over a year. In 1956, the Browder v. Gayle lawsuit was filed, based on similar cases, those of Amelia Browder and three other African American females, against the mayor of Montgomery, W. A. Gayle, and numerous other individuals.

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