Today’s blog is written by Colline over at A Potpourri of Thoughts and Experiences. I hope you visit there to read some of her other posts.
The place: a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in the United States
The date: December 1, 1955
The person: Rosa Parks, an African-American woman.
The action: refusal to give up her place for a white woman.
The result: she was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white person.
The event described above seems foreign to the modern reader. And yet it was not too long ago that women of colour did not have the rights that women today enjoy. Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, a defender of civil rights for African-American women, is known for her refusal to give up her right to choose where to sit. Her defiant action has came to be a symbol in the movement against racial segregation in the United States. Even though at the time of her action she was active in the civil rights movement, she stood up for herself on that day because she was tired of giving into the demands made on her to cede her rights to her white counterparts. She paid the price for her action: with her arrest and conviction by a local court. She also lost her job as a seamstress at a local store.
Her defiant action caused a spark in the civil rights movement that ignited the Montgomery bus boycott. In boycotting the Montgomery public transit system, the users were protesting against the segregation of races in the buses. As most bus riders were from the black population, the protest crippled the Montgomery public transit system financially as they lost most of their ridership. The year long bus boycott began on December 1, 1955 and ended December 20, 1956 with a federal ruling in the case of Browder v. Gayle; a ruling which led to a United States Supreme Court decision declaring the Alabama and Montgomery laws of segregated buses to be unconstitutional. From that time on, riders were not segregated when using the bus system.
Parks’ action on the bus that day in December 1955 was not the only action she made in her life against racial segregation. She was a firm believer that people of colour should be able to advance in society. When she was arrested, she was the secretary for the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People. When she moved to Michigan after the incident in Montgomery, she became secretary and receptionist to the African American US representative, John Conyers. She worked with him between the years 1965 to 1988. Her collaboration with civil rights leaders during her life, led her to helping Martin Luther King Jnr become the leader of the civil rights movement.
Rosa Parks was a woman who stood up for what she believed – and she worked towards achieving a vision that she firmly believed in. Undaunted by the obstacles she faced from living in a society that did not acknowledge her as an equal, she continued working for a dream that she shared with other members of the civil rights movement. Women, no matter what race, can see her as an example of a woman who never gives up on her dream, a woman who had the strength of her convictions to stand up for what she believed was right.
What do you see Rosa Parks as an example of? Would you stand up for what you believe in as she did?
When I invited Colline to write a guest blog I did not know who she would select as the featured woman. When I learned it would be Rosa Parks I was delighted. I personally find Rosa’s story inspiring. She was a woman not afraid to take a risk. I read a story about Rosa in the not so long ago past where the author made the statement that Rosa’s action on that bus that day was like her placing her shoulder against a boulder and giving it a huge push. As Colline pointed out in a comment on my recent post Fear vs. Hope risk looks different for each one of us. We need to be willing and ready to step out and take that risk when the trumpet sounds for the action you take may forever go into the history books.
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
- Molly’sBlog 2012-02-04 13:42:00 (mollymew.blogspot.com)