Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Parks Legacy Lives on 100 Years After Her Birth

Rosa Parks in 1955
On a bus in Montgomery, Rosa Parks said she wasn't physically tired on December 1, 1955.  She said she was just tired of giving in.

Rosa Parks wasn't the first African-American to refuse to move to the back of the bus for a white person, but it was her case that would draw the attention of a nation.  It was her case of civil disobedience that brought a change.  Her case spurred the Montgomery Bus Boycott that would eventually end up with Montgomery integrating the bus system.  She suffered great personal hardships because she took a stand, but, in the years to follow, her actions on that day have become more than legendary.

Yesterday would have been Parks' 100th birthday.  Instrumental in getting Parks the Congressional Gold Medal was Congresswoman Julia Carson.  She led the charge and led the fight taking it to nearly brass knuckles at time to get it done.

Parks' Congressional
Gold Medal
My friend, Wilson Allen, posted Carson's speech at Parks' Memorial Service in 2005.  It was right before Carson's health began a steady decline that would lead to her death in 2007.  If you haven't seen it, please take a moment and listen here.  The Congresswoman was in rare form...which means it was a lot of fun.  Congresswoman Carson was born to a single mother in extreme poverty.  She lived in a garage for a while.  From those humble beginnings, she became a legislator in the Indiana General Assembly and the United States Congress as well as the grandmother of another Congressional representative.  That's a remarkable life in itself and not unlike the life of the woman she worked so hard to honor.
Julia Carson

As hard as it is to believe, if Indianapolis had not sent Julia Carson to Congress, then Rosa Parks may not have received the Congressional Gold Medal.  What a tragedy that would have been.

Rosa Parks lives on 100 years after her birth and just under eight years after her death.  She's still a powerful figure in the civil rights movement and others are drawing inspiration from her determination even today.

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