Tuesday, October 25, 2005

In Memory of Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks, whose simple refusal to give up her seat on a public bus so many years ago eventually led to the much-needed civil rights reform in this country, passed away yesterday at the venerable age of 92.

As reported by Fox News:
Mrs. Parks was 42 when she committed an act of defiance in 1955 that was to change the course of American history and earn her the title "mother of the civil rights movement."

At that time, Jim Crow laws in place since the post-Civil War Reconstruction required separation of the races in buses, restaurants and public accommodations throughout the South, while legally sanctioned racial discrimination kept blacks out of many jobs and neighborhoods in the North.

The Montgomery, Ala., seamstress, an active member of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was riding on a city bus Dec. 1, 1955, when a white man demanded her seat.

Mrs. Parks refused, despite rules requiring blacks to yield their seats to whites. Two black Montgomery women had been arrested earlier that year on the same charge, but Mrs. Parks was jailed. She also was fined $14.

Speaking in 1992, Mrs. Parks said history too often maintains "that my feet were hurting and I didn't know why I refused to stand up when they told me. But the real reason of my not standing up was I felt that I had a right to be treated as any other passenger. We had endured that kind of treatment for too long."

Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system organized by a then little-known Baptist minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who later earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

Rest in peace, Mrs. Parks. The nation thanks you for your service.

UPDATE: I'm a little hesitant to add this here, but Laurence Simon has posted some pictures from one of our local Metro buses that are a little questionable. Innocent in intent, but with only a little reflection one can surely imagine what the racially oversensitive would see in these pictures of "a black woman giving up her seat to some Archie Bunker type," as Mr. Simon so accurately puts it. I didn't think it possible, but Metro has surprised me yet again.

UPDATE #2: The Detroit Free Press has an excellent article on the life of Mrs. Parks. (Hat-tip: Michelle Malkin)


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