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Inspirational Black Leaders Who Fought For Equality

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Inspirational Black Leaders Who Fought for Equality

The fact that blacks in America have went through injustice and racism to the extreme is clearly evident. It is also a well know fact that many blacks did not stand for the discrimination that was dealt to them. A great deal of Black leaders fought for equality, not only for blacks but for all races. Some of the most creditable African American Leaders were W.E.B Dubois, Thurgood Marshall, Malcolm X, and my great uncle Harold Dunovant. Without their assistance in the fight for justice, civil rights for all may not have been achieved.

On February 23, 1869 a great contribution to the African American race was born in Massachusetts. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was an incredibly attributed man. At the age of 19 he graduated from Fisk University, a black liberal arts college in Nashville, Tennessee at the top of his class. After graduating he taught at a rural school in the area, and latter published his book The Souls of Black Folk which talked about his experiences at the school. At the age of 27 Du Bois became the first black man to receive a PhD from Harvard where he studied History. Du Bois was viewed as one of the most intellectual men time black and white alike. His leadership qualities were like no other. He single handedly started the pan-African movement, and the Niagara movement.

Although the Niagara movement faltered it paved a way for one of the most prominent black organizations in America, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Du Bois was very much involved in the NAACP. Not only was he one of its founders but he was also its director of research and the editor of its magazine, THE CRISIS. Du Bois's ultimate goal was to eliminate segregation and racism. As was Booker T. Washington's who at the time was one of the most influential men in America. Although their goals were the same Du Bois did not agree with Booker T.'s method which was to accept discrimination for the time being and elevate themselves through hard work and economic gain to win the respect of whites. Du Bois course to achieve equality involved immediate and total equality both politically and economically.

"Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime." Du Bois was the voice of the black community. He fought against the demand by whites that black education be primarily industrial and that black students in the South learn to accept white supremacy. Du Bois emphasized the necessity for higher education. During his years teaching at Atlanta University he published two of his major works, Black Reconstruction: An essay toward the history of the part which black folk played in the attempt to reconstruct democracy in America 1860-1880 and Dusk of Dawn. In 1951 Du Bois was allegedly charged with belonging to the communist party but the judge eventually threw out the case. Disillusioned with the United States, he joined the Communist Party in 1961 and moved to Ghana; he renounced his American citizenship in 1963.

Like Du Bois Thurgood Marshall's ultimate goal was to end racism and segregation. Thurgood Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 2, 1908. Marshall was inspired by his father to study law because his father instilled in him an appreciation for America, the U.S constitution and laws and rules. After graduating from high school Marshall continued his education at the historically black Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania. His classmates at Lincoln included a distinguished group of future inspirational Black leaders such as the memorable poet and author Langston Hughes, the future President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, and the master musician Cab Calloway. In 1930, he applied to the University Of Maryland Law School, but was denied admission because he was Black.

Marshal did not let that minor set phase him. He sought admission to Howard University of law and was accepted. Howard's dean, Charles Hamilton Houston, infused in all of his students the desire to apply the tenets of the Constitution to all Americans regardless of color. Mr. Huston was an idol in Marshall's life and was his inspiration for his first major court case. Marshall's first case came in 1933 (Murray v. Pearson) when he successfully sued the University of Maryland to admit a young African American Amherst University graduate named Donald Gaines Murray. This was his first major case of many. In 1934 the local NAACP asked Marshall to be the chapter's lawyer. The position on NAACP council paid nothing, but Marshall thought it was an honor to work with the city's leading black rights group, so he didn't care. In 1936, Charlie Houston, who was also the first special council to the NAACP, asked Marshall to become his assistant and Marshall accepted.

For the next two years, Marshall and Houston traveled from one southern courthouse to another as they filed lawsuits for black students and teachers. Marshall's first big case as NAACP special assistant involved a black student not being able to admit to a law school similar to the Murray v. Pearson case. The case went to the Supreme Court and won by a vote of 6:2. Marshall's first Supreme Court case was Chambers v. Florida in which 3 black men were accused of murdering a white man in Florida. The three men were not allowed to see lawyers, friends, or family during their interrogation. The Supreme Court had already ruled that confessions that were obtained by force could not be used in court. However, Florida courts said that the confessions were not extracted by force, so they were used in court.

Marshall said that these confessions obtained by terrifying the men were qualified as forced admissions. Also, he debated that these confessions violated the Fourteenth Amendment which guarantees the due process law. The Supreme Court agreed with Marshall and they reversed the convictions of the three men. Marshall had argued many more cases for the NAACP that were very significant to the acquisition of black civil rights including Morgan v. Virginia, Smith v. Allwright, and Lyons v. Oklahoma. The most infamous and possibly the most significant of case fought by Marshall is the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

In 1967, Marshall made history when President Johnson nominated him for a position as an associate justice for the Supreme Court of the United States. The Senate quickly confirmed him, making him the first African-American ever to serve on that court. After a long, vital, and eventful life Thurgood Marshall



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