Sexual and racial discrimination have affected both men and women for centuries. However, several key figures in the United States have tried to create a social change in these areas by breaking barriers and challenging court rulings. Kenneth Clark, Katherine Hepburn, Fred Korematsu, Harvey Milk, and Jackie Robinson are people in history who successfully created a social change in the culture of sexual or racial discrimination.
Harvey Milk and Katharine Hepburn both strived to create change in the area of sexual discrimination. First, in the movie Milk, Harvey Milk is a gay rights activist who fights for social change in sexual discrimination. In 1977, Milk became California’s first openly gay elected official since sexual discrimination against gays and lesbians was prevalent at the time. Milk achieved this by opening a camera shop, which became popular with the gay community. After three failed elections, Milk was successful at winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which “symbolized the freedom to live life with authenticity to millions of LGBT women and men around the world” (“Harvey Milk Foundation”). Unfortunately, Milk’s success was short-lived, as he was assassinated 11 months into his term on the board.
Also, in the movie Adam’s Rib, Katharine Hepburn portrayed a lawyer who is defending a client, Doris. Doris is on trial for shooting her husband when he is caught having an affair. Hepburn’s character, Amanda, takes the case to show that men and women have a double standard in society when it comes to infidelity. To prove her point, Amanda argues that Doris’s act was a result of bad treatment by her husband. At the end of the trial, Amanda is successful in getting Doris acquitted of murder, and the verdict proves that sexual discrimination should not affect charges against women. Interestingly, Hepburn’s life resembled that of her character in the movie, as she refused to conform to the standards of women during the time period by challenging clothing, living, and marital expectations of women.
Additionally, as Milk and Hepburn pushed for social change to end sexual discrimination, Kenneth Clark, Fred Korematsu, and Jackie Robinson sought to end racial discrimination. First, Kenneth Clark sought to prove that even African American children showed signs of racial discrimination by conducting a doll’s test. The doll’s test proved that both White and Black children preferred to play with White dolls over Black dolls. Clark was successful at proving that racial discrimination affected people when his study contributed to the end of segregation in public schools.
Next, Come See The Paradise is a movie based on the life of Fred Korematsu. After World War II, Korematsu was arrested and convicted when “he refused to go to the government’s incarceration camps for Japanese Americans” (“About Fred Korematsu”). To solve this problem, Korematsu took his case to the Supreme Court and lost. However, in 1983, Korematsu’s conviction was overturned when an investigation lead by President Carter revealed that the “removing people of Japanese ancestry to U.S. prison camps occurred because of race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership” ” (“About Fred Korematsu”). Therefore, Korematsu was successful in his lifetime for ending racial discrimination against Japanese Americans.
Finally, in the movie 42, Chadwick Boseman portrays the life of Jackie Robinson. Robinson was a symbol in the Civil Rights Movement when the Brooklyn Dodgers decided to start Robinson as a player on first base. The move by the Dodgers was historic since no black men were allowed to play in the Major Leagues since segregation began. Robinson accomplished this by continually trying out for all-white teams in the Major Leagues, and he did not quit when he received discrimination from fans and fellow teammates. As a result, Jackie Robinson was successful in creating social change in the area of racial discrimination.
To conclude, Kenneth Clark, Katherine Hepburn, Fred Korematsu, Harvey Milk, and Jackie Robinson are people in history who successfully created a social change in the areas of sexual or racial discrimination. Milk and Hepburn pushed for changes in the treatment of gays and women in society, while Clark, Korematsu, and Robinson helped to end racial discrimination in the United States. In all, the success of these key figures proves that social change is possible in society.
“About Fred Korematsu.” Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.
“Harvey Milk Foundation.” MilkFoundation.org, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.