Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Twenty- First Century Rosa Parks?

Twenty- First Century Rosa Parks?

Initially I bristled when I read a Website commentary referring to Cindy Sheehan as the twenty-first century Rosa Parks. Huh? Are they serious? They can’t be for real? Rosa Parks by remaining seated stood up to a systemic, pernicious and virulent color caste system in AmeriKKKa. She went to jail but in so doing, she became the catalyst who sparked the Civil Rights movement by injecting courage and the belief in the possibility of justice into the hearts and minds of a weary and burdened people. Rosa Parks was a secretary of the Montgomery Alabama NAACP. She was an educated woman, quite, soft- spoken but resolute in her conviction that one person could make a difference. It was her standing in the community that helped unify, energize and galvanize African-Americans in Montgomery Alabama in the heart of the South to refuse to ride the public transportation system for 385 days straight! What happened to Rosa parks, getting arrested for not giving up her seat to a white person was the norm in the South in general and in Montgomery Alabama in particular. The onerous burdens of racial caste and dehumanization weighed heavily on the African-American community and its’ leadership was looking for a test case to challenge the city’s segregation laws. Rosa Parks was the right person at the right time. It was not only Rosa Parks but the community as a whole who were determined to make changes. Actually there had been several one day boycotts in the South particularly in Louisiana but they failed to get national attention or major media coverage. Nonetheless, the more I thought about the statement that Cindy Sheehan was the twenty-first century version of Rosa Parks the more plausible it became.
When Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955 the community was ready for action, in fact there were numerous others who had been arrested and the local NAACP even had a fifteen-year old girl, Claudette Colvin who had been arrested prior to Rosa Parks ready to be their test case. But they discovered she was pregnant which put a damper on using her. Park’s arrest was the spark that ignited latent yearnings for redress and justice. The NAACP and local ministers were able to take advantage of the passion and rising courage community cohesion to brave and endure intimidation by the Montgomery white power structure. The newly formed organization, The Montgomery Improvement Association organized and galvanized community support, more than 300 cars were used to car pool black to and from work and downtown retail stores. Fabricated history implies it was the good will of whites, or whites recognizing the error of their ways that ended the boycott. The truth is the boycott almost bankrupted the city’s bus company and severely impacted the bottom line of downtown retail establishments. It was the business leaders who called upon the city father’s to negotiate an end to the boycott. The rest as the say is history (more or less). Just as Rosa Parks was the right person at the right time, it appears Cindy Sheehan is also the right person at the right time. Prior to her vigil five miles from George W. Bush’s Crawford vacation ranch, very little anti-war news was being reported by the corporate mind control apparatus. Once they latched onto Cindy’s story (she is the mother of a young son who was killed in Iraq who desperately wanted to confront Bush about why her son had to die for a lie?) She has been all over the news and more and more people are sympathizing with her and supporting her. Just as Rosa Parks and the boycott leadership were demonized by the local Alabama media ;so too has Cindy Sheehan been ravaged by Bush supporters and their fascist acolytes in the Blogshere.
Perhaps Cindy Sheehan will become the catalyst for a massive anti-war movement that has thus far has remained lethargic, almost comatose in the face of clear evidence Bush lied to dupe the nation into invading Iraq. Just as the myth makers painted Rosa Parks as simply a tired hard working seamstress, the new myth makers are portraying Cindy Sheehan as a woman overwhelmed with grief due to the death of her son Casey. Prior to December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks had recently completed a workshop on race relations at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. Rosa Parks’ date with destiny was no apolitical fluke! Rosa Parks was a woman on a mission to break down the walls of racial caste in AmeriKKKa. Her arrest and the resulting Montgomery Bus Boycott was the literal spark which ignited a unified civil rights movement all across AmeriKKKa.. Likewise Cindy Sheehan appears to be on a mission not just to get answers about the death of her son; but also challenge the militarist and fascist policies of the Bush administration. She traveled to Crawford Texas in a painted bus with the words Veterans For Peace Impeachment Tour on the side. It remains to be seen whether or not Cindy Sheehan will be the catalyst for a full blown national grass roots anti-Bush, ani-war movement that will force an end to the Iraqi occupation. Is Cindy Sheehan a twenty-first century Rosa Parks? To my way of thinking, it is too soon to tell.



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