COMPARE AND CONTRAST THE IMAGES OF TWO OF THE ABOVE ICONS & POST YOUR RESPONSE ON AMERICAN ICONS TEMPLE WEBSITE.
Rosa Parks is often hailed as the “mother of the Civil Rights movement.” She became a household name following her refusal to vacate her seat for a white man on a Montgomery bus in December 1955. Her subsequent arrest (and the year long bus boycott which ensued) resulted in the repeal of racial segregation on all public transport, a huge step in the right direction towards equality. Because of this act of defiance, we think of Parks as being an extremely courageous woman with a rebellious streak; after all, she remained in her seat even though the three other black people in her row complied with the bus driver’s command to move to the back. She was fully aware of the consequences of such a decision, but she took the risk anyway. Despite this, she always appears as a calm and dignified lady. A great example of this is the life-size statue in the U.S. Capitol which shows an unassuming Parks in a saintly pose with her hands resting peacefully in her lap. This is perhaps the most admirable of her qualities; the fact that she didn’t seek celebrity from her actions, but was modestly doing what she felt was right.
Although primarily known as a sporting star, Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) was also involved in the Civil Rights movement. Like Parks, he was scarred by the southern Jim Crow laws when he was growing up. Indeed, he started boxing as a means to escape a life of poverty which would likely have awaited him. However, he was much more controversial than Parks. In 1964 he announced that he had converted to Islam and had changed his name. This shocked the nation and many high profile newspapers completely refused to acknowledge the name change. Just three years later he refused to join the U.S. army after being drafted to fight in Vietnam because he believed that a race war was taking place in America. For this, he was stripped of his boxing title and found guilty of draft evasion charges. While Parks was widely glorified for her actions, Ali was once one of the most despised public figures in the U.S, deemed a potential security risk and often going on stage to a sea of boos. His image presents him as being quite the opposite of Parks; often with his fists clenched and an angry expression upon his face. While both of these icons achieved a lot for the rights of black people in America, they each did so in their own individual way.
Alana Johnston (QUB)