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African Americans are a demographic minority in the United States. The first achievements by African Americans in various fields historically establish a foothold, providing a precedent for more widespread cultural change. The shorthand phrase for this is "breaking the color barrier."
One commonly cited example is that of Jackie Robinson, who was the first African American of the modern era to become a Major League Baseball player, ending 60 years of segregated leagues. Segregated Negro Leagues had been established for decades, featuring many talented athletes.
November 1864 — Dutch Gap, Virginia. Picket station of United States Colored Troops (USCT) near Dutch Gap canal, during the American Civil War
I say to you that our goal is freedom, and I believe we are going to get there because however much she strays away from it, the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be as a people, our destiny is tied up in the destiny of America.
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an African American civil rights activist whom the U.S. Congress later called the "Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement."
On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, age 42, refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Her action was not the first of its kind: Irene Morgan in 1946, and Sarah Louise Keys in 1955, had won rulings before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Interstate Commerce Commission respectively in the area of interstate bus travel. Nine months before Parks refused to give up her seat, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to move from her seat on the same bus system. But unlike these previous individual actions of civil disobedience, Parks' action sparked the Montgomery bus boycott.
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