Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"Tired of Giving In"

The LA Times has a nice piece on Rosa Parks, as do many newspapers this morning. On that fateful evening of December 1, 1955 when she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, Rosa Parks had not intended to get herself arrested nor was she even planning to take a stand that night. In fact, she had been going home to help plan a workshop for teenagers for the weekend. She was not a "plant" by the NAACP--as some have said to try to discredit her--but neither was she more tired than usual. "The only tired I was, was tired of giving in," she later said. Said Elaine Steele, her longtime friend, "She was in her 40's. She was not a child... She was just fed up."

That act of courage cost her her job, and later--after the ensuing boycott was successful--she had to move out of Alabama entirely to avoid death threats and reprisals from the Klan and other such American terrorists. Despite the many honors she later received, Rosa Parks was never wealthy: she lived in a modest, rented home in Detroit and her final job was as a receptionist for Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) When she was 81, she was assaulted by, ironically, a black man. She suffered bruises and was robbed of less than $100.

Over the years, she received a few unusual honors. The State of Missouri has named a portion of Interstate 55 south of St. Louis the "Rosa Parks Highway," which is not coincidentally the same stretch of highway sponsored by the Ku Klux Klan. The City of Montgomery, Alabama has put a library and museum in her name on the very spot where she was arrested back on Dec. 1, 1955. The American Public Transit Association gave her a "lifetime achievement award." At age 82 she was awarded the Medal of Freedom, and was even blessed by the Pope.

But perhaps my favorite honor is this: when that anonymous, lone Chinese student faced down a column of army tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989, Nelson Mandela characterized it as, "a Rosa Parks moment." For a dedicated civil rights worker who--in the end--was, "just a person who wanted to be seated on a bus," now that is very good company.


Anonymous said...

It really is the things we do everyday without thinking that are the measure of who we are. There is no plot, no intention, just a pure moment! 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

Not to take away from her accomplishment but she was a trained activist who had helped plan civil rights actions (voter registration drives etc) since the 1940s. I think that makes her act even braver. She knew full well that what she was doing would make her a special target of the KKK (and their numerous sympathizers), the local authorities and the governor and police of the State of Alabama. Knowing all that she did it anyway.

We all owe her a lot. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Dr. Strangelove said...

Indeed, RxR is right: she was the local NAACP secretary and knew full well what the implications of her decision might be. Two people had already refused to yield their seat in Montgomery, but the NAACP did not pursue their cases because--unlike Rosa Parks--the individuals were not exactly model citizens and so would have been destroyed at the trial.

Still, at the moment when she refused to yield her seat, it was unplanned. I like that it is kind of both ways. It makes her more human.