What was the significance of key individuals in the civil rights movement?

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Emmett Till, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks were some of the most notable individuals who gave rise to the movement. Emmett Till's murder started the civil rights movement after two white men murdered him in 1955. A cashier named Carolyn Bryant alleged that Till sexually harassed her at the store she worked in. Her husband and brother later tracked Till down and shot the boy after torturing him and disfiguring his face. Till's mother insisted on an open casket showing to the public, and the press publicized images of his body. Till's horrid murder shocked the nation and sparked the beginnings of the civil rights movement.

Martin Luther's King Jr.'s espousal of nonviolent protest and peaceful integration brought civil rights to the forefront of national dialogue. King also went on television to spread the message and gave passionate speeches that rallied many to his cause. His presence in the movement played a vital role in the peaceful coexistence of people of different races and changed many hearts and minds in the process.

Rosa Parks fostered the movement when she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in 1955. Her defiance and arrest eventually led to the Montgomery bus boycott. Her involvement also inspired many people to join the cause.

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What was the significance of certain individuals during the civil rights movement?

Martin Luther King, Jr. is the most prominent figure of the civil rights movement. He was not only a gifted orator—often opined to be one of the best in history—but he was a prominent social and political activist. He is known for the monumental "I Have a Dream" speech, as well as "“Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence," "The Other America," and "I've Been to the Mountaintop." Although known for his fiery delivery of political speeches, King also promoted economic policy improvements, especially for the working-class. His assassination on April 4, 1968 marked a turning point in the country's civil rights movement by accelerating direct-action tactics by activists and reinvigorating the passions within black activism in general.

Another prominent figure, and often considered a direct opposite of MLK, was Malcolm X. He was formerly a member of the Nation of Islam, but later converted to orthodox Sunni Islam after performing the hajj in Mecca and realizing the destructive and deceitful methods of the Nation of Islam. Like King, Malcolm X was a brilliant orator and writer. However, their ideologies differed in minor ways. Malcolm X, at least in his early political career, advocated an extreme form of black nationalism. However, before his assassination in 1965, Malcolm X adopted a more all-inclusive and open-minded approach.

Rosa Parks, by simply refusing to move out of her seat in a segregated bus, led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This pivotal moment is considered by historians as one of the contributing factors to the birth of the civil rights movement. Parks not only became a symbolic figure of the movement, as well as defiance of the South's Jim Crow laws, but she became an activist as well.

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