A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Happy Febarch! And, A Merry Maruary to you!

I have been meaning to create some posts during February in honor of Black History month, but this month has just flown by (was it deliberate to honor African Americans in the shortest month of the year?). As many of you know, March is Womens' History month. So, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and do some posts about influential African American Women. I might also throw in some white women, as long as they're awesome. So, in the first part of this series, I'd like to honor Rosa Parks.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was on her way home from her job as a seamstress when the white bus driver asked her and three other black passengers to give up their seats for a white man. She refused, and was arrested and fined $10. Her courageous actions spurred a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama that lasted 381 days. Rosa's act of defiance may seem small, but I like the way the NY times described it in her obituary (Mrs. Parks passed away in 2005):

"Her act of civil disobedience, what seems a simple gesture of defiance so many years later, was in fact a dangerous, even reckless move in 1950's Alabama. In refusing to move, she risked legal sanction and perhaps even physical harm, but she also set into motion something far beyond the control of the city authorities. Mrs. Parks clarified for people far beyond Montgomery the cruelty and humiliation inherent in the laws and customs of segregation."

It's important to note that her action was not without consequences - she lost her job and did suffer financially for her dedication to this cause. It's also important to note that the boycott didn't get results on the 1st day, or the second, or even the 300th! It took over a year of walking, carpooling, and boycotting for the protesters to get justice. Even when the buses were desegregated, a long fight for true equality continued (and continues today). When we stand up to the petty injustices of the world's bigots, we can't expect instant change or no adversity. I truly admire Rosa Parks. In her words, here's why she refused to get up from her seat:

"I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time... there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn't hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became."

I honor and admire Rosa Parks for her courage. She was truly a great American.

For more information, see a really detailed biography on Wikipedia here. There's also a great slideshow of pictures of Rosa here.

P.S. Anyone up for a road trip to see the bus Rosa Parks sat on? I'm there!