Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Pondering Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks is Dead at 92.
What if Rosa Parks hadn’t given up her seat on that bus in 1955? What if Martin Luther King hadn’t organized a year-long boycott of the Montgomery, Alabama bus system in response to Park’s imprisonment for the offense? What if people just rolled-over and allowed the status quo to continue?
The legacy of Rosa Parks is not just a Black legacy; it set into motion a correction of the notion that all men were not created equal, and proved to the nation that liberty and justice for all should be exactly what it says—for all.
I was thinking over the weekend, after attending church services at a predominately Black congregation in Beckley Heights, in South Dallas, remembering that song we were taught in Sunday school—“red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight…”
I learned that song as a small child in 1958…1959…during the period in which Rosa Parks’ stand by refusing to stand on that bus was still reverberating. When I was able to read, while really too young to know any different, I was old enough to feel uncomfortable when I understood what a “whites only” sign meant in businesses in my neighborhood. If a six-year old could “get” that, why was it so hard for people of 36, 46, or 66?
Rosa Parks’ seat on that bus was the cradle of awakening for a nation of the true concept of liberty, and a better understanding of the proposition that all men are created equal. And while our society has been enriched for the tumultuous experiences that her defiance triggered, there have been stumbles and gaffes, too.
The awareness of race is no less despicable when it is used as leverage for special treatment than when engaged to deny rights. The notion of privilege based upon heritage or color is no different than the hateful notion of segregation that split communities, families, and skulls. And the idea of playing catch-up through a scheme of “reparations” no more ennobles those who would feign offense for personal gain, than it lessens the effects of prejudice so prevalent in the ‘50’s and 60’s…and in some small-minded communities, continues to exist today.
In fact, any philosophy that would single out any group by race or skin color in order to establish an advantage over another group, or the general public, is ironically as wrong-minded as the prejudicial offense that is being corrected. Call it the concept of “two Wrongs don’t make a Right.”
There is no doubt that being Black in America in the 21st century is still a very different experience than being red, yellow, white or purple…but thanks to Rosa Parks, being Black in 2005 is also quite different that being black in 1955.
For that matter, being White in America is quite different than than 50-years ago, a concept that is continuing to morph.
The nation is a better place for Mrs. Parks having been here…and we--red, yellow, black and white--are all blessed for having known her or known about her.