History's Great Leaders Great Leaders Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

They have to determine what needs changing, and then figure out how they are going to change it. Only then can they really accomplish something of importance and worth.

While Powell is clearly involved in military issues, and protecting and defending his country, he is concerned about other issues as well. Education is one of the issues that he sees as important, and he is also interested in helping those in this country who are poor and in need of assistance. Another issue he is concerned about is what he calls 'inclusiveness.' In other words, everyone in this country should be included in what this country does (Ferullo, 2000).

Because of his childhood and some of the segregation that he had to deal with growing up and in the early years of his career, Powell realizes the difficulties that minorities in this country face today. If one is not white, American, and male, there are problems in obtaining high quality jobs and education. It is not always obvious, and it does not always happen, but the potential for discrimination is always there. Even though it is not supposed to be legal, there are ways around that.

In addition to all of the military and humanitarian work that Powell has done, when he retired from his 35 years in the military he wrote a best-selling autobiography and began working as a public speaker. He spoke to audiences all of the country and overseas as well. He also works with a group that is attempting to help out the youth of the nation, and make sure that they do not fall into many of the traps that teenagers and young people often become involved in (International, n.d.).

His interest n helping the youth of the nation is also evidenced by the Elliot Richardson Public Service Prize that he won in 2002. The prize was for increasing interest in public service in the youth of the nation, and for embodying characteristics such as integrity and imaginative leadership (Council, 2002).

Colin Powell is certainly not the only individual in history to realize the significance of the problems that are being faced and the leadership that is needed. Around 1955, Dr. Martin Luther King became involved in the civil rights fight when he arranged a year-long boycott of Montgomery, Alabama's public transit system. This came about due to the arrest of Rosa Parks who took a seat near the front of a public bus when she wanted to go home after work instead of moving to the back to sit in what was considered the colored section (the Evolution, 2005). Ms. Parks was not deliberately trying to be defiant, she was simply tired and wished to sit down. She was also likely tired of being pushed around and treated improperly based on her race. Apparently, what she did made a strong difference rather rapidly because a federal court in 1956 issued an injunction stopping buses from exercising any kind of segregation in Montgomery (the Evolution, 2005).

Dr. Martin Luther King also remained active in the civil rights movement and lead demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. Many members of the press at that time documented demonstrators being very peaceful as they were brutalized by fire hoses, cattle products, and police dogs (the Evolution, 2005). Dr. King was jailed and wrote a letter from the Birmingham jail regarding nonviolent civil disobedience as a way to help force change in many laws that were considered to be unjust (the Evolution, 2005). It was also in 1963 that Dr. King led a large demonstration in Washington D.C. And gave his famous "I have a dream" speech in front of approximately 200,000 people (the Evolution, 2005).

While court cases, the civil rights acts, Rosa Parks, and Dr. Martin Luther King did not change the world overnight, all of these things worked together to change many of the beliefs and opinions that individuals had regarding the differences between individuals of various races. There is still some prejudice in this country and it likely will remain. However, civil rights have changed a great deal throughout American history, and politics have both affected this and been affected by it. Because of some of these changes and what he contributed to them, Dr. Martin Luther King is both loved and hated depending on who is asked. There are those that will make racial slurs against him and his color and say that he did nothing but stir up trouble and cause problems for white people, while others see what King was trying to accomplish and how hard he worked to ensure that everyone is treated fairly.

Contrary to the belief of many, King was not 'against' white people or any other race - he simply wanted to see everyone being treated equally and based on who they were as people, not based on the color of their skin. There are many people of all races that are good, and many that are bad, and race or color does not make someone into a specific 'type' of person. Circumstances and other issues may do that, but the color of skin that someone is born with does not predispose them to be a good person or to be a bad person. King was trying to show this to everyone and lead the country in a revolution that would have completely changed everything. While he was only partially successful, his perseverance and determination are very important qualities that the leaders of today could learn from.

Had he not been willing to continue to push for equality and justice, many of the people that received it would not have done so, and the problems that were seen with racial inequality might still be much stronger than they are today. Had this been the case, Colin Powell would not have been able to rise up through the government as far as he did and much of what he taught to others would never have come to pass, which would have been another unfortunate consequence of a lack of civil rights and respect for others, regardless of what the color of their skin might have been.

Literature Review

Powell, King, and others like them, saw that the nature and effects of racism, prejudice, and discrimination in society impact mental health in African-Americans (Rollock & Gordon, 2000; Dobbins & Skillings, 2000). Harrell (2000) found that less attention is paid to the experience of racism among those who are its targets. For example, it is not uncommon for experiences of racism to be questions or challenged by others. Such requests for proof can create a my-perception-against-yours dilemma that may include accusations of paranoia, hostility, oversensitivity, manipulations, self-serving motives, or having a 'chip on one's shoulder' (Harrell, 2000).

The American justice system prides itself for being color blind, yet more than half of the prison population is made up of black men or women, accounting for one million individuals in prison (Marable, 2000). African-Americans make up only fourteen percent of all drug users in America, yet constitute thirty-five percent of all drug arrests, fifty-five percent of all drug convictions, and seventy-five percent of all drug admissions for drug offences. Statistically, more than eight out of every ten African-Americans males will be arrested at some point in their lives.

The pattern of racial bias in these statistics has been confirmed by the research of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Marable, 2000). Marable (2000) believes that racial stereotypes among African-Americans as violent, aggressive, hostile, and short-tempered influence white judgments about crime. It is commonly believed that judges are inclined to give black and Latino defendants more severe judgments of guilt and lengthier prison sentences than whites who commit identical crimes (Saltzburg, 2003). Former Supreme Court Justice Bruce Wright argues that many judges are "ignorant of, and indifferent to, the debased reality of those who are judged," thus resulting in harsher judgment and sentencing of minorities like blacks and Latinos (Wright, 2002). It is only through strong and persistent leadership that this can be changed.

Bullet Point Literature Review

Racism is one of the largest problems affecting our country today, with many more black people than white people still being arrested and imprisoned, and this is true for both males and females.

There have been many strong African-American leaders such as Colin Powell and Dr. Martin Luther King, but there have been many more leaders that are not African-American and have not accomplished as much.

Dr. Martin Luther King was often seen as a troublemaker because he was willing to speak his mind and say that something was not right or not fair in the way that people were being treated even if he knew that he would be persecuted for it at some point in his life - he was willing to take that risk because he felt it was important.

Colin Powell came from very humble beginnings, but he worked quite hard to make something of himself and to put himself…

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