Remember Rosa Parks

I just finished listening to the audio book Rosa Parks—A Life by Douglas Brinkley.

I knew that Rosa Parks was “the prim, bespectacled, 42-year-old mulatto seamstress” who had refused to  give up her seat on the Cleveland Avenue bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1945.

I knew what Rosa Parks did on that December day, but I didn’t know very much about this very strong Resolute Woman.

Consider these facts:

Rosa Parks earned her high school diploma in 1933. “At that time only a small percentage of black people in Montgomery were high school graduates,” Rosa Parks once explained. “In 1940, seven years after I got my diploma, only seven out of every 100 had as much as a high school diploma.”

Rosa Parks was a hard working woman. She worked as a seamstress at a department store, but she often did additional sewing jobs in the evening and accepted other part-time jobs to help support her husband and her mother. Her husband, Raymond, was often sick and sometimes did not make very much money working as a barber.

Rosa Parks had been active in the NAACP for years, serving as secretary of the Montgomery chapter. On the day she refused to relinquish her bus seat to a white man, she had spent her coffee break and her lunch hour tending to NAACP business.

Segregation was still the law, of course, when the bus driver demanded, “Are you going to stand up?” And Parks looked straight at him and answered simply, “No.”

He replied, “Well, I am going to have you arrested.” And Parks replied softly, “You may do that.”

Time magazine later named Parks one of the hundred most significant individuals of the century, noting that her “modesty” and “serenely human” bravery made her unique among heroes and heroines.

We’re going to remember Rosa Park’s quiet strength. She is a magnificent role model for all of us. 

–Joy

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