Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Woman Who Created a Shift

Rosa Lee Parks, whose refusal to give up her seat to a white man that sparked the modern civil rights movement, died today. She was 92. Mrs. Parks was 42 when she committed an act of defiance in 1955 that was to change the course of American history and earn her the title "mother of the civil rights movement." Her refusal to yield her seat created a major shift in the winds of change. After her action, the infamous bus boycott was organized by a supportive black community, led by a young Martin Luther King. This triggered a chain of events culminating in civil unrest, non-violent (in theory) marches and protests and changes in archaic laws. From the moment she refused to give up her seat on the bus, Rosa Parks was propelled into an international spotlight. She embraced her role and continued to be a leader until the day she died.

One small assertive stance. A whole shift in thinking and acting. Amazing.

Speaking in 1992, she said history too often maintains that "my feet were hurting and I didn't know why I refused to stand up when they told me. But the real reason of my not standing up was I felt that I had a right to be treatedas any other passenger. We had endured that kind of treatment for too long."

30 years after the incident, she stated: "At the time I was arrested, I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of people joined in."

Just last week, I started reading a book that contained a chapter on Martin Luther King which of course mentioned Rosa Park's role in the path that King chose to take with his life. Since then, I had been thinking about her and the bravery she showed to the world from that day forward. It's funny how that're thinking about someone, or something and then a connection of some kind occurs. Today, I will continue to think of Rosa Parks and remember the lesson she taught, and how she continued to live her life according to the rights and values which she believed. She was and is a true role model.

"I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear."
Rosa Parks, 1913-2005

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