Both Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali are significant icons in the African-American civil rights movement. Both Park and Ali broke the law in order to challenge inequalities prevalent in American society. Each of their actions is a legacy that shows how significant an act of defiance can be. Rosa Parks was an African-American civil rights activist who began her journey in the freedom movement when she refused to forfeit her seat to a white passenger on board a Montgomery Alabama bus in 1955. While she worked alone, her actions were orchestrated by a wider organisation known as the NAACP. Once she was arrested, the NAACP sprung into action and organised a mass boycott of the Montgomery bus system. The boycott lasted 381 days and included 42,000 participants. By the end of it, black residents of the area were able to ride the bus as equals. Parks, though courageous in her actions, was a passive resister who wanted to invoke change. Her image as a peaceful yet strong woman meant she was an appealing candidate for the public to sympathise with.
Muhammed Ali was an entirely different figure. He was known in the public eye as a strong, young successful boxing star who had won the world heavyweight boxing championship in 1964. Ali broke the law by refusing to be conscripted into the US army during the Vietnam War on the grounds of his religion of Islam, being a conscientious objector. Refusing to accept this as a legitimate excuse, the government arrested Ali and took away his both his titles and boxing licence. Ali, also being an African-American had grown up with the experiences of facing racial segregation and abuse. In contrast to Rosa Parks, Ali’s resistance was primarily an issue of religion however his status as a proud black man who was anti-establishment inspired other black Americans to question the norms. As the Civil Rights movement begun to gather momentum and the War was starting to come up against criticism from the public, Ali became a spokesperson for black rights and the growing counterculture of the time. Another difference between Ali and Park was that that Ali was working alone in his act of defiance while Parks was actually supported amongst the black community in her area. Both Parks and Ali were eventually successful in overturning their arrests, which meant they were catapulted from negative criminals to positive American icons. Both Parks and Ali were revolutionary in their actions as they challenged the status quo of the time.
The image of Rosa parks is one that reflects her passive yet poignant action. The image of Muhammad Ali as a dominant fighter reflects his powerful impression on American society.