Today’s Notable Quote: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead (1901 – 1978)
When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man 52 years ago on December 1, 1955, she was tired and weary from a long day of work.
That’s how the event has been retold and recorded in high school and college history books. Yet, this explanation alone does not do justice to the woman whose act of courage "jump-started" the wheels of the civil rights movement on that Montgomery City Bus more than half a century ago.
Rosa Parks was physically tired after a long day’s work. Even so, given different circumstances, she would likely have given up her seat to a child, elderly or disabled person. But Parks had grown tired of the treatment she and other African Americans lived with daily due to the racism, segregation, and "Jim Crow" laws of the time.
"Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it," writes Parks in her revealing book, Quiet Strength, (ZondervanPublishingHouse, 1994). "I kept thinking about my mother and my grandparents, and how strong they were. I knew there was a possibility of being mistreated, but an opportunity was being given to me to do what I had asked of others."
The rest of Parks’ story is American history…her arrest and trial, a 381-day Montgomery bus boycott, and, finally, the Supreme Court’s ruling in November 1956 that segregation on transportation is unconstitutional.
Parks’ personal history has been largely overlooked. In the years before her arrest, Mrs. Parks worked quietly and diligently to change the injustice and inequity that she observed around her. She served as secretary of the NAACP and later was named an Adviser to the NAACP Youth Council. Rosa Parks wanted to vote, and sought to register on several occasions when it was still nearly impossible to do so.
Thank you Rosa, for your example of faithful, diligent and firm resolve. Thank you for refusing to leave your seat on the bus on this day in 1955. Your actions are an inspiration to me as a middle-aged, middle-class, middle-American person to stand for what I know is right, even when it is costly.