Chivalric Heroism Essay, Research Paper
Rosa Parks: Angry Bus Rider
Rosa Parks was tired. She’d just spent all day sewing and pressing clothes at the Montgomery, Alabama, department store, where she was a tailor’s assistant. Her feet, neck and shoulders ached as she arrived at her bus stop to go home. The thought of standing during the ride did not sit well with her, so she let one crowded bus go by.
A second, less crowded bus came. She got on, taking a seat in the middle of the bus. In the segregated Montgomery of Dec. 1, 1955, the first 10 rows are reserved for white riders. As the bus went along its route, more people got on, and the white section of the bus filled up. When another white man boarded, the driver ordered Parks and three blacks seated next to her to move.
Parks refused and was arrested. Her act of individual resistance is one of seminal events in the civil rights movement. Parks’ made her heroic stand in an atmosphere of lynchings for blacks who stepped out of line, putting her at great risk. Her actions changed the course of history and made her an American icon.
Parks was convicted for violating the city’s segregation law. The local NAACP chapter, of which Parks was a member, organized the bus boycott and used Parks’ prosecution to challenge the constitutionality of city’s segregation laws. The lawsuit resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court outlawing segregation on city buses. The protests also brought a Montgomery clergyman named Martin Luther King Jr. into national prominence.
“I don’t remember feeling that anger,” Parks said of her arrest in a 1995 interview. “I did feel determined to take this as an opportunity to let it be known that I did not want to be treated in that manner and that people have endured it far too long. However, I did not have at the moment of my arrest any idea of how the people would react.”
In the years since her infamous arrest, Parks has been a leading spokeswoman for civil rights and won numerous honors for her work. The American Academy of Achievement, which inducted her into its hall of fame in 1995, calls Parks an “example of courage and determination and an inspiring symbol to all Americans to remain free.” She is also an inductee in the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
People still have the power to make a difference, particularly younger generation, Parks said.
“The advice I would give any young person is, first of all, to rid themselves of prejudice against other people and to be concerned about what they can do to help others,” she said. “And of course, to get a good education, and take advantage of the opportunities that they have.”
Parks was born on Feb. 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her father, James McCauley, was a carpenter, and her mother, Leona McCauley, was a teacher. Parks moved to the Detroit area with her husband Raymond in 1957. Raymond Parks died in 1977.
Muhammad Ali, the former heavyweight-boxing champ, is called ‘The greatest fighter in the 20th century.’ However, we may not need to invent any other descriptions for his achievements which had been already elaborated too much by Ali himself.
His famous expression is to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” It is true that the graceful footwork and the lightening punch made him the first boxer to win the world heavyweight championship title three different times.
Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942. His original name was Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. He changed his name after he converted to Islam in 1964. According to his religious belief, Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army in the middle of the Vietnam War in 1967, which caused a serious controversy across the country. He was convicted, which resulted in the deprivation of his first championship. His boycott has been remembered as one of the most prominent conscientious objections against the war.
He came back to the ring in 1971 for the highly promoted bout with Joe Frazier as “The Fight of the Century” but he lost the 15-round fight. His challenges continued to fight against George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974. The bout was called “The Rumble in the Jungle.” At this bout, Ali performed the surprised but famous ‘Rope-A-Dope’ strategy to tire out Foreman, who was knocked out in the eighth round.
Next year Ali met Foreman again in Manila, Philippines to protect his championship. He defended his title in this brutal 15-round battle called “The Thrilla in Manila.” In February 1978, Ali lost his second championship to a young and strong boxer, Leon Spinks in Las Vegas, Nevada. seven months later the two fighters had a rematch in New Orleans, Louisiana and Ali regained the title. It was the record that a boxer gained three-time world heavyweight-boxing champion. In 1981, he was stopped by Larry Holmes, a former sparring partner.
His boxing record was 108 wins and 8 losses in his amateur competition including the Olympic gold medal in Rome, 1960 and 56 wins (37 knockouts) and 5 losses as a professional boxer until he retired in 1981.
Now, in spite of suffering from Parkinsons’ Disease, Muhammad Ali is devoting his life to activities for charity organizations. He is especially active for Jubilee 2000, the organization that campaigns for the cancellation of Third World debt. During the Gulf war in 1991, he met with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to negotiate the release of American hostages in Baghdad. In 1996, he came to the Olympic game in Atlanta, Georgia. He suddenly appeared above the rim Olympic Stadium at the most dramatic moment at the Olympic Ceremony. He lit the torch and moved people to tears.
Unraveling DNA: Watson&Crick
Francis Crick and James Watson have led distinguished careers as scientists and scholars. The names may not resonate like Einstein or Da Vinci, but Crick and Watson’s research identified the building blocks of all life on earth and changed the course of science forever.
What the two young scientists discovered in 1953 was the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, the same acronym as in “DNA testing” that helps police identify criminals. The discovery also spawned the biotechnology industry that has led to numerous scientific discoveries that have changed the way we live our lives, from the food we eat to the medicines we use.
“Francis Crick and I made the discovery of the century, that was pretty clear. We made it, and I guess time has justified people paying all this respect to me in spite of my bad manners,” Watson once said.
Watson was only 25 when the pair made their discovery on Feb. 28, 1953 at the Cavendish Laboratory of Cambridge University in Great Britain. They began collaborating on studying the structure of proteins two years earlier. Crick, a post-doctoral fellow at Cambridge, had already been using X-ray crystallography to look at proteins.
Their initial experiments proved futile and they were ordered by the lab to discontinue their work. But they continued in secret and put together the pieces to the DNA puzzle.
DNA had been discovered in the 1860s, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that scientists paid any attention to the simple acid. It was then that scientists found that chromosomes, which carried hereditary information, were made up of DNA and proteins. The accepted theory that proteins carried genetic material was also debunked at this time. It was found that DNA was the genetic carrier and thrust it into the forefront of scientific research.
Extrapolating on the X-ray photos of DNA taken by Rosalind Franklin, the work of Linus Pauling on a model of helical protein and the research biochemist Erwin Chargaff, Crick and Watson began building DNA models using wire and metal. After several failures, the pair put together the well-known “double helix” structure of DNA molecule.
For their work they were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1962, along with Maurice Wilkins.
Watson later taught and did research at the California Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Harvard. He was also director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a molecular biology research center. Crick, who had not finished his PhD. when he won the Nobel Prize, has been a researcher with the Salk Institute in California, investigating the origin of life and consciousness.