Posted: February 4, 2011 by Jay Rasean in Kasual

February 4, 1913 –  October 24, 2005

Not just African-Americans know who Mrs. Rosa Parks was, I’m sure everybody with a basic knowledge of history has an inkling of who she was. The primary theme of my daily features highlighting prominent African-Americans in history, was to start by introducing some of the more obscure African-American individuals–the people who aren’t that popular, but contributed to society in a major way. Rosa Parks was in no way obscure, but in light of what would have been her 98th birthday, I figured I refresh our memories of her historical blackness.

The 1950’s was a extremely turbulent time for the civil rights movement, particularly in the south. Jim Crow laws–which legally enforced the ideal that many aspects of society be “separate but equal”, were the norm. The major flaw within this system of everything being separate, but equal, was that although everything was separated, it was a far from equal-and this flaw was beginning to become highly apparent in the black community. African-Americans were exhausted due to the poor living conditions and the several restraints society had placed upon them. Among these tired individuals was Rosa Parks.

On December 1st, 1955-coming home from work one evening, Rosa embarked on a bus ride that would be a major catharsis for the civil rights movement. Rosa complied with the Jim Crow seating arrangements and sat in the first row reserved for “colored passengers“.  This particular evening, the bus was a bit crowded causing the “white only seats” in the front to be occupied quite quickly, leaving some white passengers to stand. In accordance with the law, the bus driver was allowed to request the black passengers in the first row of the colored section to give their seats to the white passengers who were standing up. Rosa, and 3 others were asked to move. The three others followed orders, Rosa did not. Why didn’t she move? A common misconception is that Rosa didn’t move because she was tired. As Rosa once stated in an interview, this was not true.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in” –Rosa Parks

She was tired alright, but not physically tired. Rosa’s emotional weariness was demonstrative of the emotional exhaustion we as a people were subject to day in, day out. She refused to relinquish her seat, not because she didn’t want too, but because she was unable too. Rosa was glued to that Montgomery bus seat; not in the literal sense, but in the sense that the moment she arose from that seat to comply with the bus driver’s orders, would be another moment among countless others in which our people just, gave up. There comes a time where you have stand for what you believe in, this time we had to sit  for what we believed in. As we all know from the picture below, Rosa was arrested.

Her arrest sparked a series of defiant acts, including a bus boycott in Montgomery.  On November 13, 1956, the united states outlawed racial segregation on several different bus lines. Then, on Decemeber 20, 1965, the court order arrived in Montgomery, and the bus boycotting ended the following day.

Rosa Park moved to detriot, where she resided until her death on October 24, 2005…she was 92. When I hear the name “Rosa Parks” I’m reminded that you don’t have to be a famous, or a politcal servant to have a say in society-everyone has a say. Whether you vocalize your opinon on soapboxes on crowded street corners; or you do as Rosa did, and refuse to conform to a ridiculous law that was suppressing-in a sense, hurting our people.

Rosa Park is an excellent example of fighting for what you believe in, at any cost. Alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and many others, Rosa was commited to making equality more than just a notion, but a  concrete realization. Rosa Parks worked for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and advance colored people is what she did. Rosa Parks, without a doubt, is a major reason why black history should be a year ’round event.



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