Edited by Gerald Boerner

    

Commentary

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031Today we take a look at the life of Rosa Parks. This brave woman, while slight in structure, made the stand against the Jim Crow laws that created a two class system in the south. We continue this series with one of this women who was involved in one of the triggering events leading to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

On the way back home after a hard day at work, Rosa Parks was asked to yield her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, to a white man. And this was not a request due to intentionally sitting in the white section of the bus! No, she sat in the back section of the bus, but as it progressed along its route, additional white riders boarded and were force to stand while there were empty seats in the Colored section of the bus. Rosa Parks sat in the forward part of the Colored section; at one of the stops, the bus driver, in order to make more seats available for the white riders, moved the demarcation sign behind where Parks was seated.

She was then requested to relocate to the new Colored section. She refused, was arrested, and taken to jail. This triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She did not start out as an activist, but became active after her experience; her life has many valuable lessons for the rest of us. Equity belongs to us all: male or female; black, Hispanic, or white; sexual preference; or any other dimension that distinguishes one person from anotherGLB

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Special Tribute

Rosa Parks in RotndaOctober 30, 2005
Civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who was arrested 50 years earlier for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, is the first woman and second African American to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

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Quotations Related to ROSA PARKS

“Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it.”
— Attributed to Rosa Parks

“I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people.”
— Rosa Parks

“I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move.”
— Attributed to Rosa Parks

“I did not get on the bus to get arrested I got on the bus to go home.”
— Rosa Parks

“We didn’t have any civil rights. It was just a matter of survival, of existing from one day to the next. I remember going to sleep as a girl hearing the Klan ride at night and hearing a lynching and being afraid the house would burn down.”
— Rosa Parks

“I didn’t want to pay my fare and then go around the back door, because many times, even if you did that, you might not get on the bus at all. They’d probably shut the door, drive off, and leave you standing there.”
— Attributed to Rosa Parks

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
— Rosa Parks

“I do the very best I can to look upon life with optimism and hope and looking forward to a better day, but I don’t think there is anything such as complete happiness. It pains me that there is still a lot of Klan activity and racism. I think when you say you’re happy, you have everything that you need and everything that you want, and nothing more to wish for. I haven’t reached that stage yet.”
— Rosa Parks

Black Women in History: Rosa Parks

    

Rosaparks Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (1913 – 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.

Parks’ act of defiance became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including boycott leader Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to launch him to national prominence in the civil rights movement.

      

At the time of her action, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for workers’ rights and racial equality. Nonetheless, she took her action as a private citizen “tired of giving in”. Although widely honored in later years for her action, she suffered for it, losing her job as a seamstress in a local department store. Eventually, she moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she found similar work. From 1965 to 1988 she served as secretary and receptionist to African-American U.S. Representative John Conyers. After retirement from this position, she wrote an autobiography and lived a largely private life in Detroit. In her final years she suffered from dementia and became embroiled in a lawsuit filed on her behalf against American hip-hop duo OutKast…

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References:

Paula J. Giddings. (1996) When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America. Harper

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Rosa Parks…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_Parks

WikiQuote: Rosa Parks…
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Rosa_Parks

Other Web Sites:

Troy University: Rosa Parks Museum and Library…
http://montgomery.troy.edu/rosaparks/museum/

NPR: Civil Rights Icon Rosa Parks Dies…
(with Audio Tribute: Remembrance by Cheryl Corley)
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4973548&sourceCode=gaw