Sample Research Paper



Sample Research Paper

Enough Is Enough: Rosa Parks, American Hero

Thesis: A hero is someone who can do the unexpected, one who pushes beyond personal losses and fears to commit an heroic act that helps others. A hero is strong, stands up for his beliefs, and takes charge when others don't. Everyone can be heroic and do heroic things but not everyone can be a hero. Through overcoming obstacles, fighting against the evil of racism, and standing up for her beliefs, one small woman changed the course of American history. A study of the remarkable life of Rosa Parks reveals that she, a seemingly ordinary woman, has lived the life of a hero.

A. Definitions

B. My opinion, definition Overcoming Obstacles

A. Early life

1. Childhood, school, home

2. Parents separation

3. Learning to do things on her own

B. Husband and occupation

The Bus Incident

A. What happened

1. What was asked

2. What she did/said

3. How she and the others reacted

B. The consequences

1. Jail

2. Civil rights rallies began Fighting Against Segregation

A. Protests, public speaking

B. Joining organizations



C. Boycott of the buses

1. How they did it

2. The result of the boycott



DeCoudres 1

Enough Is Enough: Rosa Parks, American Hero

For centuries the figure of a hero has been portrayed in myths, music, stories, dramas, novels, movies, and legends. Although the types of heroes change as time passes, their essence remains the same. There are many different definitions of a hero, but they all are based around the same ideas: the hero is above average, brave, courageous and loyal. In Man, Myth and Magic, Richard Cavendish gives this description: "The hero, in his quest for some priceless treasure, blazes a trail for the less adventurous to follow; his end is often untimely but above all it is for the way in which they die that the great heroes of literature are remembered" (295). ^^ Roget's Thesaurus defines the hero as a person revered especially for noble courage (Soukhanov 409). All heroes have had to overcome some sort of hardship and push ahead of the rest. Robin Hood, a legendary folk hero, had no family and no home but gave all that he had to the poor; Odysseus, hero of Greek mythology, battled Cyclops, evil spirits and temptresses on his long path to heroism; even Superman lost his parents and devoted himself to saving the lives of others. Similar paths were followed by modern heroes such as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, and Anwar Sadat, all of whom support Cavendish's description of pioneers who die in their quests for "priceless treasures." The prime example of a hero would be Jesus Christ, one who had to overcome many obstacles and who was killed in the end for the trail he blazed. According to Sutcliff, a hero is no ordinary person, nor is it common for us to encounter heroes: "No country has many, for the hero is not a person one meets everyday (life would be extremely uncomfortable if one did!) nor even every century It is hard to know, still harder to tell, what makes the hero, though when you find him, you know him instantly and beyond doubt" (11). It is clear that the hero is a remarkable person, however one may argue that Cavendish's description of the hero's death severely limits the number of people who might be considered heroes. Not every hero has to die a "heroic" or tragic death.

.Writer's last name and the page number.


Parenthetical citation for a direct quotation when the author's name is cited in the text


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How, then, should this remarkable person be adequately described? By looking at what a

hero is not, we may come closer to a true definition. A hero is not necessarily physically

attractive in any way; in fact, quite the opposite may be true. A hero may not be physically

strong either, nor must he be a mental giant. No "special powers" must be possessed by a hero

and the hero does not need to be perfect or even especially good at any one thing. A hero is not

universally loved nor are his or her beliefs always followed by the crowd at first. A hero is

someone who can do the unexpected, one who pushes beyond personal losses and fears to

commit a heroic act that helps others. A hero is strong, stands up for his beliefs, and takes

charge when others don't. The consequences of the hero's actions must be far reaching and

influence the world in a significantly positive way. At first look, a hero may appear to live and

think and behave like the rest of humanity, however that first look will be deceptive. Everyone

can be heroic and do heroic things, but not everyone can be a hero. Perhaps Joseph Campbell's

Parenthetical citation

definition of the hero is the clearest when he describes the hero as someone who has achieved

for ideas that have

something beyond the normal range of human expectations and who has given his life to

been summarized or

something larger than himself. He may have chosen to be a hero, or destiny may have placed

paraphrased when the

him where he needed to be so that he becomes the one to achieve something great by

author's name is cited

sacrificing a part of himself for a noble cause (51). Campbell also says of the modern hero that

in text.

the hero's deed must be that of "questing to bring to light again the lost Atlantis of the . . .

soul" (388). Through overcoming obstacles, fighting against the evil of racism and standing up

for her beliefs, one small woman changed the course of American history. A study of the


remarkable life of Rosa Parks will reveal that she, a seemingly ordinary woman, has truly lived

the life of a hero.

From the beginning, the life of Rosa Parks was not an easy one. On February 4, 1913 in

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Tuskegee, Alabama, Rosa Louisa McCauley was welcomed into the world. Born the oldest of Does Ro

sa Parks fit the definition of a hero? Is she someone who achieved something

two, she had one younger brother, Sylvester. Her parents were both hard working, trying toeyond the no

rmal range of human expectations? For a woman in Rosa's circumstances, the

make a living for their children. Rosa's mother, Leona McCauley, taught at a rural school andmal range o

f expectations most probably would have been to marry, get a job, go to work

all laws, sit at the back of the bus, drink at separate drinking fountains, remain

ep quiet, not rock the boat, and have children to be raised up in the same society.

But Rosa did not follow that path and, as the literature tells us, she fulfilled her commitment to

the cause of justice far above and beyond the call of the average person. Was Rosa's heroism a

choice, or was

she simply put into a set of circumstances which forced her to become a hero? It

is true that Rosa Parks was put into many difficult situations and circumstances, but it was the

choices she made in those circumstances that really made her a hero. Whatever obstacle got in

her way, she overcame with flying colors. Her dad left the family, so she took on more

responsibilities; her mother became ill, so Rosa took care of her; she was uneducated, so she

paid her own way through school and learned as much as she could. Perhaps the greatest

obstacles she faced were her cultural heritage and that she was black and a woman, but she

overcame those, too. She stood up to the bus driver and now she can sit wherever she wants;

she can even drive the bus if she wants. She spoke out for civil rights and now African

Americans and all other Americans of color can vote, live, and eat wherever they want. These

things are normal now, but they may have never happened without Rosa. She not only helped

the black people, but every other minority which wasn't treated equally, and especially women!

She also helped white Americans to realize how cruel they were being and brought them down

off their pedestals. She knew she was equal to these white people and she showed the world

how smart and worthy of respect the black and female communities could be. Most of all, she

gave all oppressed people hope.

When people talk about a "good sport" or "the leader of the pack," Rosa Parks would

definitely be included. But what really made her a hero was that she overcame her own

personal problems to devote her life to this cause. Everything she did, she did with non violence

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and dignity. One of the things people can learn most from studying Rosa's life is her will to live. She valued not only her own life, but the lives of all people. We can learn to have integrity, strength, hope, faith and love. She forgave her oppressors and brought them over to her side. We can learn to not let what others think control our lives or rob us of our happiness. Rosa was also proud and she wasn't going to let anyone take that away from her. That's how we should all be.

Many heroes are simply in the right place at the right time and they make a good choice, but this was not the case with Rosa Parks. She and everybody else could have stood up to the white people any day they wanted to, but they were scared. Everybody was scared. A simple black woman followed her heart. Her whole life prepared her for the bus incident. Some might say she wasn't really a hero because all she did was do the right thing and everybody knew it. Why, then, did no one else stand up to the white people and do what Rosa did? Rosa fulfills Joseph Campbell's idea of the hero because he says destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown" (58). She had no way of knowing where her actions would take her, but she stepped out of what was normal, everyday behavior to do the thing that changed everyone's lives. She fulfilled her destiny. Other definitions of a true hero say that the hero must be brave, loyal, courageous, strong, make a path for others to follow and over come all the obstacles in their way. She certainly fits this description as well. One day Rosa Parks, American hero, decided she had had enough, and the rest is history.





Center Works Cited

Works Cited

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero With A Thousand Faces. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1949.

Cave, Janet P., ed. Perseverance: African Americans Voices of Triumph. New York: TimeLife Books, 1993.

Cavendish, Richard, ed. Man. Myth and Magic. New York: Cavendish Marshal, 1985. D'Emilio, John. The Civil Rights Struggle: Leaders in Profile. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1979.

Hagedorn, Herman. Eleven Who Dared. New York: Scholastic Magazines, Inc., 1929. Parks, Rosa. Quiet Strength. Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994. Peterson, Thair. "Recognizing Rosa Parks." Long Beach Press Telegram, 21 Mar. 1998: A8. Nagel, Carol, ed. African American Biography. United Kingdom: Gale Research

International Limited, 1994. Renmert, Richard, ed. Profiles of Great Black Americans: Female Leaders. New York:

Chelsea House Publishers, 1994. Soukhanov, H. Anne, ed. Roget's II The New Thesaurus. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988.

Sutcliff, Rosemary. Heroes and History. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1965.

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