Sample Essay Writing Paper on History Assignment

Almost every society across the globe has witnessed social actors who have played a
significant role in influencing public policy and debate through social movements made of
organized groups striving toward a common social goal. Much evidence suggests that social
actors not only respond to but also try to sway public opinion. Even though most of us have
learned about social actors or agents in history classes, most of the fundamental changes that
they caused have been taken for granted. From the anti-tobacco actors who have worked to
outlaw smoking in public buildings while championing to raise the cost of cigarettes to those
responsible for recent uprisings throughout the Arab world amongst others, classical and
contemporary actors have been responsible for creating social change on local, regional and
global scale 1 .
This paper will make a detailed attempt and focus on some of individuals and groups who
influenced public policy and debate in society. More so, the paper will focus on individuals and
groups of actors who protested against government’s omnibus bills and other types of
legislations that generated much debate and overall change process to be realized in the society 2 .

1 Andrews, Kenneth T., and Sarah Gaby. "Local Protest and Federal Policy: The Impact of the Civil Rights
Movement on the 1964 Civil Rights Act." Sociological Forum 30, (June 2, 2015): 509-527.

2 Krinsky, John, and Nick Crossley. "Social Movements and Social Networks: Introduction." Social Movement
Studies 13, no. 1 (January 2014): 1-21

3

Historical Impact of Rosa Parks
A very influential and widely read figure often referred to as the “mother civil rights
movements” was Rosa Parks 3 . She is famously known for having influenced the Montgomery
bus boycott especially among the black community in the United States. Majority of the history
of the United States did witness situations where minority groups such as the black people were
made to undergo several injustices. In 1955, Rosa Parks had boarded a bus to work. Blacks were
allowed to sit as long as there were enough seats for whites. However, as the bus continued with
its journey, more whites boarded it and since there was no space, Rosa Parks was asked to move
so that a white man could sit down. She did refuse and was immediately arrested and charged for
violating segregation laws 4 .
Rosa Park’s act of defiance not only changed her but also influenced and changed the
course of the larger American society in a number of ways. As indicated earlier, Parks became
known as the mother of civil rights movements due to her refusal to offer her seat to a white man
on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Earlier on, Parks and her husband had been involved with the
NAACP fight for civil liberties and the Voter’s league in addition to raising money to support a
group of young black men falsely accused of raping two white women 5 . Her fight for equality

3 Newson, Adele S. "On the Bus with Rosa Parks (Book Review)." World Literature Today 74, no. 1 (Winter2000
2000): 165.

4 McGhee, Felicia. "The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Fall of the Montgomery City Lines." Alabama Review
68, no. 3 (July 2015): 251-268.

5 Zangrando, Robert L., Dennis B. Downey, and Raymond M. Hyser. 1991. "No Crooked Death: Coatesville,
Pennsylvania, And The Lynching Of Zachariah Walker.". The Journal Of American History 78 (3): 1116.

4

started long before but it was her refusal to offer her seat to a white fellow that really marked the
highest points of her activism career.
Rosa Parks call for equality of all persons in America and her subsequent arrest did
influence public debate and numerous protests especially across the black community. For
instance, The Women’s Political Council did protest Park’s mistreatment by organizing a bus
boycott on the day of Park’s trial. Other activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. continued
boycotting the buses to the extent of influencing the policy makers to change segregation laws
and also hire black bus drivers. The boycott did last for 382 days thereby costing the bus
company a great deal of money. Even though the bus company did not give in, a lawsuit filed on
June 4, 1956 in the Supreme Court declared the Montgomery segregation laws illegal 6 .
Rosa Parks did outlive many of her contemporaries and witness firsthand the effects of
the Civil Rights Movement. After refusing to give up her seat, she influenced public debate and
policy change to the extent of ending legalized segregation that was in existence in America by
then. Her efforts led to the emergence of black upper and middle class citizens with people of
color enjoying unparalleled access to basic opportunities as their white counterparts 7 . Her
decision not to give up her seat to white person did awaken and influenced the marginalized
black communities to rise up and challenge for what they believed was rightfully theirs. Her
struggles did not go unnoticed. The federal government by then was forced to act while policy

6 Parks, Virginia. "Rosa Parks Redux: Racial Mobility Projects on the Journey to Work." Annals Of The American
Association Of Geographers 106, no. 2 (March 2016): 292-299.

7 Wade-Lewis, Margaret. "I Remember Rosa Parks: The Impact of Segregation." Black Scholar 35, no. 4
(Winter2006 2006): 2-12.

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makers redrafted laws that did not favor the black community living in America by then 8 . Apart
from individual persons, such as Rosa Parks, other groups of people have formed organizations
with an aim of championing for certain ends as highlighted below.
Influence and impacts of the Idle No More group
As evident, social actors or agents are groups of organized people working towards a
common goal exerted through social control or social suggestions, public opinion, union, club,
religion and appeal amongst others for purposes meant to promote group welfare. Such groups of
actors may be attempting to sway public opinion while attempting to either create change, resist
change or working to influence or provide a political voice to the disenfranchised persons in the
society. A prominent and national group in recent years, which has influenced public debate was
a group known as Idle No More 9 . Idle No More was a protest movement organized by four
women in November 2012. It was a grassroots movement common among the Aboriginal people
of Canada and supported by non-Aborigines consisting of political actions.
By then, the four Aboriginal women organized an event in Saskatchewan for purposes of
protesting against the Conservative government’s C-45 omnibus bill. The four women (Nina
Wilson, Sheelah Mclean, Sylvia McAdam, and Jessica Gordon), were against proposed number
of omnibus bills that introduced sweeping legislative changes that threatened the indigenous
lives of the Aboriginal people. For instance, the bill proposed the removal of protection for

8 Catsam, Derek Charles. "Mister, This is not Your Fight!": The 1961 Montgomery Freedom Ride Riots." Studies In
The Literary Imagination 40, no. 2 (Fall2007 2007): 93-109.

9 John, Sonja. 2015. "Idle No More – Indigenous Activism And Feminism". TIA 8 (4): 38-54.

6

forests and waterways in addition to the removal of the term “absolute surrender” among
others 10 .
One of the most contentious features of the bill that concerned the aboriginal people a lot
were the government’s lack of consultation with them on a number of provisions such as the
Indian Act, the Navigation Protection Act, and others such as the Environmental Assessment
Act. The government proposed a number of bills that affected First Nations people and according
to the indigenous groups, the federal government was working in bad faith especially with
Aboriginal people’s interests 11 . In other words, the government of Canada was practicing open
discrimination against the nations original inhabitants by coming up with bills and legislations
that worked against them.
It is for the above reasons that the founders of Idle No More in association with other
social actors and individuals within the society started a campaign aimed at fighting or
championing for their rights. For instance, a month after the formation of the group, Idle No
More conducted a national day of action and this was an event that saw Chief Theresa Spence of
Attawapiskat First Nation taking a 43-day hunger strike on the Ottawa River island near
Parliament Hill 12 . Her hunger strike galvanized national and overall public attention on matters

10 Barker, Adam J. "‘A Direct Act of Resurgence, a Direct Act of Sovereignty’: Reflections on Idle No More,
Indigenous Activism, and Canadian Settler Colonialism." Globalizations 12, no. 1 (February 2015): 43-65.

11 Gilio-Whitaker, Dina. "Idle No More and Fourth World Social Movements in the New Millennium." South
Atlantic Quarterly 114, no. 4 (October 2015): 866-877.

12 John, Sonja. 2015. "Idle No More – Indigenous Activism And Feminism". TIA 8 (4): 38-54.

7

to do with aboriginal issues. Later, numerous protests characterized by flash mobs and violent
protests and temporary blockades were carried out in many places across the country. Chief
Spence’s major demand was the need to set up a meeting with the Governor General and the
prime minister for purposes of discussing issues that affected the aboriginal communities in
Canada. She argued that aboriginal sovereignty and previous treaty negotiations were matters
whose origins preceded the establishment of the State of Canada 13 .
As indicated earlier, the society is made up with social actors who speak out against
certain vice in a community thereby influencing public policy and debate. In this case,
individuals such as Spence, Wilson, Mclean, McAdam, and Jessica Gordon attempted to change
the way the Canadian society had discriminated the Aboriginal people. Idle No More founders
influenced public policy and debate across Canada to the extent of making the government
consider its original stand. For instance, it is reported Spence and other social actors ended their
hunger strike after the government obliged and signed a 13-point declaration that demanded the
government to reconsider its original position by reviewing Bills C-45 and C-38. Such
declarations did put in place mechanisms that ensured aboriginal consultation on government
legislation, improve treaty negotiations, improve aboriginal housing, initiate an enquiry into
missing aboriginal women, and better aboriginal education amongst other commitments 14 .
A perfect example of the above scenario played itself on some of the major landmark
rulings on native rights in Canada. In this ruling, the Court of Appeal decision forced the federal

13 John, Sonja. 2015. "Idle No More – Indigenous Activism And Feminism". TIA 8 (4): 38-54.

14 John, Sonja. 2015. "Idle No More – Indigenous Activism And Feminism". TIA 8 (4): 38-54.

8

government of Canada to amend the Indian Act for purposes of eliminating open discrimination
against the children and wives of non-status Indians. The case was launched by social actors for
change such as Sharon Mclvor, a B.C aboriginal woman married to a non-status Indian, and her
son, married to a non-status Indian too who could not legally pass on Indian status to his
children. They challenged their case alleging that the Indian Act violated rights to gender
equality hence the ruling by the appeal court on the plaintiffs’ favor on the need to amend the
legislation 15 . As evident, these are efforts led by social actors that generated so much debate to
the extent of causing change against a vice such as discrimination that existed in the society. The
actors were broader in their concerns and more radical in championing for the demands of the
aboriginal communities.

15 McIvor v. Canada (2009). (2016).

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SOURCE:https://www.google.com/search?q=idle+no+more+movement&client=firefox-
b&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwixmq_m3KLOAhVGWxoKHfOoDDwQ_AUICygE&biw=1366&bih=657#imgrc=XNT31HF
eh5pcxM%3A

Impacts of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
In close relations to the above, other groups or actors that have been at the forefront
against the fight of certain immoral or wicked behavior in the society such as discrimination is
the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This is an
interracial American group created to champion for the abolition of discrimination and

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segregation of in education, housing, voting, employment, transportation and oppose racism
while ensuring African Americans enjoyed their constitutional rights 16 . Founded on February
1909, the NAACP is America’s oldest, largest and widely recognized grassroots-based civil
rights organizations with more than half-million supporters and members spread throughout the
United States.
Just like the Idle No More group, NAACP had its own founders made up of interracial
groups of people such as W.E.B Du Bois, Mary White Ovington, Ida Bell Well-Barnet amongst
others who were concerned with the challenges faced by the black community in America. This
is especially in the wake of the 1908 Springfield (Illinois) Race Riot (Watson, Denton and
Christine, 2016). The NAACP was formed partly to respond to the practice of lynching and other
forms of violence committed against the blacks in the United States. More importantly though,
the group’s founders championed or called for a meeting to discuss aspects of racial justice in the
US. Since the black people arrived in the United States as laborers forced to work in cotton
farms, they have suffered acts of discrimination and injustice that continues up to modern times.
This was the prime motivator behind the formation of the group that generated much public
debate and opinions in the country 17 . As indicated above, the NAACP was created in
response to the horrific lynchings that took place especially in the southern United States. The
actors fought to secure the constitutional rights that were guaranteed in a number of amendments

16 "Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement." Publishers Weekly 256, no. 22
(June 2009): 41.

17 Watson, Denton L., and Christine Tomassini. “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
(NAACP).” Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. 2, no. 4 (2 August 2016): 1580-1600.

11

that sought to establish an end to slavery, ensure equal protection under the law, and universal
male suffrage. Apart from persuading President Woodrow Wilson to denounce lynching in 1918,
other areas that social actors of the group did succeed in are political actions such as securing the
enactment of civil rights laws, better education programs for blacks, and other direct actions
meant to achieve specific goals.
In 1939, the NAACP was established as an independent legal arm to the extent of
influencing the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling of 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education of
Topeka on matters to do with school-desegregation 18 . Another significant victory won by the
group was Morgan v. Virginia case in 1961 where the court successfully barred segregation at
the interstate travel that set the stage for the Freedom Rides of 1961. While those goals have
been achieved, the organization remains active today as it continues fighting against inequalities
in civil rights and instances of discriminatory practices that are prevalent in the society.
Since the formation of the NAACP, the group did not have significant national outlook
across the United States bit after the murder of its field director known as Medgar Evers in 1963,
the group gained national prominence almost immediately resulting to the passage of the Voting
Rights Act in 1965. During the 1980s, the NAACP argued against apartheid in places such as
South Africa while opening more offices in Maryland, New York City and Baltimore and many
other places across the United States. With the turn of the new century, the group has been
influential in shaping public policy and debate as it has worked on sponsoring programs against

18 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. (2016).

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youth violence, increased voter drives for increased participation, encouraged economic
enterprise especially among African Americans 19 .
The NAACP is known for employing certain strategies that such as pickets,
demonstrations, marches and sit-ins as means of publicizing their interests or trying to influence
public opinion and public officials on matters to do with the improvement of the status of blacks.
Aside from its opposition against lynching, NAACP fought a bitter battle against racial injustices
in the courts based on race and color. Other notable areas where the NAACP took a lot of
interest were the “White Primary” policy that effectively disenfranchised southern blacks and
excluded them from voting 20 .
Even though much of NAACP history has been chronicled in books, pamphlets,
magazines and articles, the true movement lies in the faces of social actors made of men, women
and children of diverse multicultural army of ordinary people from every walk of life, class and
race that were united and influenced hence awakening people’s consciousness and that of the
nation. According to Huddy, heading into the 21 st century, it is evident that members of NAACP
continue to exert its influence in the society as it focuses on disparities in health care, education,
economics, and voter empowerment while continuing with its efforts as a legal advocate for civil
rights issues.

19 Zangrando, Robert L., Dennis B. Downey, and Raymond M. Hyser. 1991. "No Crooked Death: Coatesville,
Pennsylvania, And The Lynching Of Zachariah Walker.". The Journal of American History 78 (3): 1116.

20 Huddy, Leonie. "Justice in America: The Separate Realities of Blacks and Whites." Political Psychology 35, no.
2 (April 2014): 304-305.

13

SOURCE: https://progressivismrace.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/lynching_515.jpg
Conclusion
To conclude, social actors have been a part of nearly every society across the globe. The
society is made up of individuals and groups who have risen up and continue doing so with an
effort of eradicating a certain vice that may be prevalent in the society. Rosa Parks did it. Other
groups such as Idle No More and NAACP amongst others have been the voice of the
marginalized in society. The actions and opinions have shaped public debate and policy change
in the society. Their efforts to foster equality for all has been widely read and acknowledged by
scholars and other academicians across the globe. Their efforts have influenced people to act
locally, regionally and internationally.

14

Bibliography

Andrews, Kenneth T., and Sarah Gaby. "Local Protest and Federal Policy: The Impact of the
Civil Rights Movement on the 1964 Civil Rights Act." Sociological Forum 30, (June 2,
2015): 509-527.
Barker, Adam J. "‘A Direct Act of Resurgence, a Direct Act of Sovereignty’: Reflections on Idle
No More, Indigenous Activism, and Canadian Settler Colonialism." Globalizations 12,
no. 1 (February 2015): 43-65.

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. (2016).

Catsam, Derek Charles. "Mister, This is not Your Fight!": The 1961 Montgomery Freedom Ride
Riots." Studies In The Literary Imagination 40, no. 2 (Fall2007 2007): 93-109.
Gilio-Whitaker, Dina. "Idle No More and Fourth World Social Movements in the New
Millennium." South Atlantic Quarterly 114, no. 4 (October 2015): 866-877.
Huddy, Leonie. "Justice in America: The Separate Realities of Blacks and Whites." Political
Psychology 35, no. 2 (April 2014): 304-305.
John, Sonja. 2015. "Idle No More – Indigenous Activism And Feminism". TIA 8 (4): 38-54.
Krinsky, John, and Nick Crossley. "Social Movements and Social Networks: Introduction."
Social Movement Studies 13, no. 1 (January 2014): 1-21.
"Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement." Publishers
Weekly 256, no. 22 (June 2009): 41.

15

McIvor v. Canada (2009). (2016).

McGhee, Felicia. "The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Fall of the Montgomery City Lines."
Alabama Review 68, no. 3 (July 2015): 251-268.
Newson, Adele S. "On the Bus with Rosa Parks (Book Review)." World Literature Today 74, no.
1 (Winter2000 2000): 165.
Parks, Virginia. "Rosa Parks Redux: Racial Mobility Projects on the Journey to Work." Annals
Of The American Association Of Geographers 106, no. 2 (March 2016): 292-299.
Wade-Lewis, Margaret. "I Remember Rosa Parks: The Impact of Segregation." Black Scholar
35, no. 4 (Winter2006 2006): 2-12.
Watson, Denton L., and Christine Tomassini. “National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People (NAACP).” Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. 2,
no. 4 (2 August 2016): 1580-1600.
Zangrando, Robert L., Dennis B. Downey, and Raymond M. Hyser. 1991. "No Crooked Death:
Coatesville, Pennsylvania, And The Lynching Of Zachariah Walker.". The Journal Of
American History 78 (3): 1116.