Much of the privilege and knowledge we enjoy today was once vilified by the powers that be who sought to maintain the status quo. Luckily for us, there have always been individuals who showed no regard for those limiting rules that were meant to keep us down. They wholeheartedly stood their ground and kept pushing on to bring about some much-needed change. These are five people who made the world a better place by breaking the rules.
1. Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela became the first Black president of South Africa in 1994, but this was only after a long string of imprisonments for speaking out against Apartheid – a legal system that was put in place for the overall benefit of the minority white population. He peacefully protested against the system several times and every time was met with imprisonment, notably between 1948 to 1956 and again in 1962, when he was sentenced for life. After his release in 1990, he continued to protest nonetheless and finally achieved his goal in 1993.
2. Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci was a brilliant mind who was way ahead of his time. He was an artist who created outstanding works of arts, an engineer who designed advanced technology (tanks, airplanes, submarines) and even dabbled in medicine. During his lifetime, da Vinci dissected at least 30 corpses, which led to the discovery that the heart, and not the liver, was at the center of the circulatory system. Naturally, he received a lot of hate and resistance from the higher ups, who accused him of unseemly conduct and perhaps even witchcraft, putting an end to his work.
3. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. is often seen by many as one of the most prominent faces of the Civil Rights movement. He quickly stood out among his peers as a charismatic and powerful leader who advocated for racial equality for African Americans in the form of nonviolent resistance like nonviolent protests and prayer vigils. Like many activists of his time, he was arrested for alleged civil disobedience, a whopping twenty-nine times in total. Perhaps he is best known for his “I Had a Dream” which detailed his vision of the future of America.
4. Rosa Parks
While Rosa Parks wasn’t the first to refuse to give up her seat, her refusal to do so led to a series of events that brought an end to the legal segregation in Alabama’s public transport system. It was December 1, 1955 when a white man insisted that Rosa Parks make her way to the colored section in the back. Naturally, she refused, and was arrested for so-called “civil disobedience.” This led to a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system by activists and a little over a year later, the divisive bus system came to an end.
5. Susan B. Anthony
Despite being mainly associated with the suffrage movement, Susan B. Anthony actually fought for equality on all levels, including race. She started collecting anti-slavery petitions from the age of 17, and received hundreds of thousands of signatures in support. Shortly after slavery came to an end, she shifted her focus on women’s right and, in 1872, was arrested for “illegally” voting during an election in Rochester, New York. She held her ground and refused to pay the fine. Her activism eventually paid off, and fourteen years after her death, the 19th amendment was passed, giving women the right to vote.
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