Every person is created equal and has a similar set of hands, eyes, and legs. However, unfortunately judging people based on his/her skin color is quite common all across the world. In the US (United States), racism is controlled, but small instances make headline news everywhere.
The Struggle of Black Men
Centuries ago, white people have enjoyed many privileges, and black people with African origins were not considered equal members of society. Injustices and prejudices have been witnessed throughout history based on race, religion, and ethnicity.
Racial discrimination has been observed in various segments, including healthcare, the justice system, business, economy, politics, and media. Racism is defined as a form of oppression or persecution against particular members of society that belong to a specific race.
The racial biases and prejudicial attitudes have existed for eons between two races. Racial discrimination dates back to the 1600s, and capitalism also played its part as the rich started to exploit the wealth and labor of less privileged people of Africa.
February is termed as ‘Black History’ month in the US, and throughout the month, events and online discussions are held to shed light on the struggle of African Americans. The remembrance of notable black men is done to make people aware of the struggle against racism, segregation, and slavery.
Important Black Men in History
Black History Month pays tribute to some of the popular black men from different walks of life; some were civil leaders, some were sportsmen, some were judges and lawyers, and some were musicians. Each individual played a significant role in the respective period and changed how people view people of a certain race. Some of the powerful black men in history include
- Martin Luther King Jr.
The turning point or highlight of the African Americans’ struggle was the famous Civil Rights Movement, where the African Americans protested for social and political injustices and segregation laws. On August 28, 1963, a massive protest was organized, which is mostly remembered for the famous words of Martin Luther King that were ‘I have a dream.’
Martin Luther is perhaps one of the most influential figures in the Civil Rights movement, and a federal holiday is also observed each year on January 3 in his honor. Martin Luther was a Baptist minister in Montgomery and actively participated against the racial injustices from the 1950s to 1960s.
- Mohammad Ali
The sporting history will be incomplete without Mohammad Ali, who was also named the ‘Sportsman of the Century.’ Mohammad Ali was the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion. He rose to fame because of his boxing abilities and refusing to enlist in the Vietnam War.
- Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass is another prominent person who lived through slavery in the middle of the 19th century. Douglass was a slave himself, and his life experiences are written in the autobiography called ‘Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.’
Douglass was a former slave but became a civil rights activist, writer, and advisor to the president. Frederick Douglass was an active member of a particular group called ‘Abolitionists’ who wanted to abolish slavery and racial injustice.
- Nelson Mandela
One of the towering figures in the political world is none other than Nelson Mandela. The latter was an active civil rights leader in South Africa and protested against the segregation of black and white people. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, but he got his due reward and was named the President of the country in 1994.
- Jackie Robinson
Another influential sports player other than Mohammad Ali back in the 1960s was Jackie Robinson, who became the first African American to play for ‘Brooklyn Dodgers,’ an MLB (Major League Baseball) team. Previously, there was widely known that black people could not perform at a professional level, but the stigma was broken by Jackie Robinson, whose jersey number ‘42’ is officially retired, meaning that no player in the MLB will be given jersey number 42.
- E.B Du Bois
A prolific academic, author, and civil rights activist before Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King was W.E.B Du Bois. They laid the foundation of the NAACP (National Association for Advancement of Colored People), which is still arguably the best organization for the rights of African Americans.
Du Bois is famous for his literary letters and service for defending numerous African Americans against racial discrimination.
- Langston Hughes
There was a period known as the Harlem Renaissance where there was cultural and artistic growth. Langston Hughes was a famous poet and novelist. He got known due to his work in ‘The Weary Blues’ where he shares poetry on the socio-economic situation of lower-class African Americans.
- Arthur Ashe
Arthur Ashe is one of the most renowned tennis players and the first American of African origin to be selected in the US Davis Cup team. He won 3 Grand Slam titles and the only black man to win the Australian Open and Wimbledon. In 1992, Arthur was diagnosed with HIV due to receiving blood transfusions after getting his second heart surgery.
To raise awareness, Arthur opened the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS. The center court of Flushing Meadows is named after Arthur Ashe, and the player also posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1993.
- Octavius V. Catto
Octavius Catto was one of the most notable civil rights activists in the 19th Century in Philadelphia. Catto played a significant part in protesting against slavery and struggled to implement civil rights for all. In 2017, a monument of Octavius Catto was placed in Philadelphia’s City Hall to honor the work and efforts of Octavius Catto.
- Muddy Waters
When it comes to performing arts, Muddy Waters’s name stands out, and he is also recognized as ‘Father of Modern Chicago Blues.’ Waters was a singer and songwriter and liked to play guitar and harmonica. He won two Grammy Awards for his album ‘They Call Me Muddy Waters’ and ‘The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album.’
Steve Arnold writes about history and culture for an online magazine, and recently he discussed the struggle in the civil rights movement and the role of black men in history.