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Fifty-one years ago the Civil Rights Act was passed to bring an end to discrimination in America. In the nineteenth century, the northern and southern states in America fought a bloody homeland war, bringing an end to slavery. In the years to come, however, racial differences persisted between black and whites. Segregation is the separation or isolation of a one ethnic group, race or religion from another, usually with an undermining thought of superiority. There are many ways one ethnic group may discriminate against another group, whether it be intentional or not. During the twentieth century, the more dominant, white race discriminated against other races, such as the Black’s, thus bringing attention to its societal, political, and ethical issues. In the United States of America, the southern states were still very racially divided. Before the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1965, many inspirational speakers, innovators, and anti-segregationists had to effectively bring the attention to the public. From the southern state of Mississippi during this time, singer Elvis Presley was made prominent. Known as “The King of Rock and Roll”, Elvis was also considered a major revolutionist for the Civil Rights Movements. Elvis Presley was a civil rights abolitionist who challenged the social and moral values of segregation in the 50’s through his songs and dance moves, thus sparking a new generation and changing the world.
Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8th, 1935. A brother to Jesse and son to working parents Vernon and Gladys, Elvis and his family were constantly on the move. During his upbringing, Elvis grew an attraction to the gospel music that was played at church, frequently attending mass at the Assembly of God Church. Starting at the age of eleven, Presley rapidly pursued his musical profession, recording fresh out of school in 1954. The following year he produced a number one hit song, thus increasing his fan base. Not only were his fans attracted to this young singers music, they were also intrigued by his unique, yet unusual, music style, provocative gyrating hips, and good looks. Not too much time passed until Elvis had made noise on the radio, showcased on television and also began his career as an actor. He was known for his number of top hits, including his first box office hit, Love Me Tender.
After around three years of being in the spotlight, Elvis was drafted into the army in 1957. Though mourning of the death of his beloved mother, Presley served in Germany until the year 1960 in which he returned to the spotlight. After his withdrawal from the army, Elvis again continued his singing and acting career, swiftly climbing the billboards again. While stationed in Germany, Elvis’ saddened soul was lifted by a young teenager, Priscilla Beaulieu, who he later married in 1967. The married couple then had a kid, Lisa, but only after six years of marriage,the two got a divorce and Priscilla received custody of the child. From this point on, Elvis’ life started to deteriorate. He began to take part in the use of prescription drugs as well as gaining sufficient weight. He then performed his last gig in 1977 where the following morning he was found dead from heart failure in his bathroom, which doctors ruled to be from the prescription drug overuse.
Although the end of Presley’s life was subpar, during his prime he made significant innovations. He popularized the genres rock and roll, country, and gospel music, also achieving the title “King of Rock and Roll” and a place in both the country, and gospel music hall of fame. Elvis, a singer, actor, militant and revolutionist was from the small southern town in Mississippi. Inspired at a young age, he took an interest in gospel music, as well as other genres too. He began to sing and dance his way to the top of the charts, becoming a big inspiration. Little did Elvis know, his inspirational dance moves would be a major contributor to the end of discrimination.
2 The History Of Segregation Throughout America
“War is sorrowful, but there is one thing infinitely more horrible than the worst horrors of war, and that is the feeling that nothing is worth fighting for…” (Harper’s Weekly) Ever since the independence of the United States in the seventeenth century, discrimination has been a paramount issue. As seen with the Civil War, many abolitionist are trying to bring about unity and peace between all humankind. The bloody war was fought in order to abolish slavery in the south, and with the victory of the north, this goal was attained. Although this war caused devastation to the south, in the long, run it instituted a more powerful government, improved the growth of the industry, and eventually reunited the United States.
After slavery was eliminated within the states, the next objective for equality was to bring unity between the segregated races. Throughout American history, the white race has been the more dominant, even after the Civil War. In the southern states especially, discrimination in the late nineteenth and the twentieth century was still apart of everyday lives. As whites had grown accustomed to slavery, no one knew how to adjust to life without it so they held on to what little they could from their past lifestyle. “Realtors and landlords steered blacks away from white neighborhoods and municipal ordinances, as well as judicially enforced racial covenants, signed by homeowners kept blacks out of white areas.” (Lawson). Activists sought to eliminate the lack of unity throughout the country, thus attempting to bring about equality between races.
Nearing the end of the nineteenth century, President Teddy Roosevelt dealt with the ideas of the progressives. The progressives were a group in the twentieth century who appealed to the devalued groups, such as the blacks. As a previous governor of New York, Roosevelt ended school segregation. Additionally, just one month after being elected in as president, he invited Booker T. Washington, a black civil rights activist, to dine at the White House. Roosevelt being the figurehead of the country thus caused an uproar. He was an effective advocate for the civil rights, and although he did not have the political willpower to remain an advocate for this cause, Roosevelt helped shape the future.
Many fans of Elvis will perceive him as a rockstar, the king of rock, but nothing else. Elvis was more than a small town boy who became a pop star, he was a revolutionary. Elvis not only changed lives in America, but also did so world wide. “Elvis never set foot in Britain, but now, 37 years after his death, London’s O2 is hosting a stunning exhibition of Presley memorabilia, much of it from his legendary home, Graceland – where Event’s Michael Hodges (left) was given this unique private tour.” Through his dance moves and his songs, Elvis was the start of unity between different races.
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