Rosa Parks

by Marianne Richmond on October 26, 2005

I don’t know exactly when I first heard about Rosa Parks but I do know if I
were asked to define bravery or courage of convictions it could
be defined by her refusal in 1955 to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. She is frequently referred to as an ordinary person and her act of refusal as a
“simple act”. I just don’t buy that.

There was nothing simple or ordinary about
Rosa Parks or her refusal to move to the back of the bus….not in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama. Although she later wrote, Alabama"If
I had let myself think too deeply about what might happen to me, I might have
gotten off the bus," she had to have been aware of the possibilities of
great harm. A black woman just didn’t defy Jim Crow in in 1955 without realizing the
enormous risk. After all, in 1943 she had been ordered off a bus for a similar
refusal and she walked home….she had 12 years to consider the possibilities. The
New York Times wrote, “
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.”

In 1988, Rosa Parks said at a celebration in her honor, "I am leaving
this legacy to all of you… to bring peace, justice, equality, love and a
fulfillment of what our lives should be. Without vision, the people will
perish, and without courage and inspiration, dreams will die –the dream of
freedom and peace." This was no ordinary woman. She had a vision of
justice and equality and the courage to defy the obstacles in her path by her
actions.

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