Past Events That Have Shaped the Present

Topics: United States, Vietnam War, Gulf War Pages: 6 (1931 words) Published: September 27, 2009
Past Events that have shaped the Present

Kristy Schlak
Axia College of the University of Phoenix

Past Events that have shaped the Present
Remembering our past is important; events that happened yesterday can shape next week or next year. The interesting thing about history is that it is not always recognized as important until much later. When Britain and France tried to appease Hitler with part of Czechoslovakia in 1938, the significance of giving into Hitler’s demands was not fully realized until Hitler advanced further into Czechoslovakia and invaded Poland, (BBC, 2008). Giving in to what was thought of as a small demand set in motion a series of events that resulted in the loss of countless lives, destruction in many parts of the world and a new attitude about a global community. This paper will examine five events in American history that helped to evolve the way Americans live today. Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement

In December of 1955 civil rights activist Rosa Parks decided that she was tired of the way she had been treated and refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, AL to a white man, even though it was against the law. At the time she never realized what her actions would bring about, this is illustrated in her response to a question asked by a student during an interview conducted by Scholastic.com in 1997, I didn't have any idea just what my actions would bring about. At the time I was arrested I didn't know how the community would react. I was glad that they did take the action that they did by staying off the bus, (para. 11). This event was an action without violence that was encouraged by civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King’s strategy of fighting back without violence proved successful in the effort to obtain civil rights for black people, (Davidson, 2006). The boycott that followed Parks refusal lasted 381 days and ended on December 21,1956. The black people of Montgomery faced long walks and the risks of losing their jobs during the boycott but held strong and in the end the act of non-violence worked. This seemingly small act, not the first of its kind, Parks was the third person arrested for not giving up her seat, accomplished more for the civil rights movement than any other. By joining together in a cause the black people of Montgomery, AL were able to get the bus laws changed and laid the path for other civil rights groups to follow. As time went on there were more struggles but slowly laws started changing and black people earned a higher place in society. Even though Parks did not realize that her actions would cause such uproar, without this act Barack Obama would not campaigning for a place in the 2008 presidential election. The Death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On April 4, 1968 the U.S. lost an exceptional leader. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of his hotel room while visiting Memphis, TN in support of striking sanitation workers, (The King Center, 2004). A man who had practiced and preached non-violence throughout his life died in an act of violence by a man named James Earl Ray. Dr. King’s words and actions inspired many, including the Montgomery, AL bus boycotters, and his famous speech March on Washington continues to inspire today. Other speeches of his have also aided in opening doors to black people in politics. In a less famous speech on April 4, 1967 about the foreign policies of America regarding the Vietnam War, “the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. denounced the Vietnam War as an ‘enemy of the poor’ and called the U.S. government the ‘greatest purveyor of violence in the world,’”(Brewington, 2005). Even though he knew the risk of losing focus on civil rights; Dr. King associated his beliefs about non-violence in denouncing the war in Vietnam. In doing so he paved the way for future African-American leaders and foreign policy makers, like Colin Powell and Condolezza Rice, (Brewington, 2005)....

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