Monday, October 31, 2005

Food For Thought

Food For Thought

“WASHINGTON - Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks was remembered Monday as a courageous woman whose defiance in the face of segregation helped inspire the architects of the civil rights movement and set an example for generations to follow. An overflow crowd of mourners joined official Washington to pay tribute to the woman whose refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., city bus helped galvanize the modern civil rights movement.”- KEN THOMAS, Associated Press Writer

The body of Mrs. Rosa Parks laid in state in the US Capital Rotunda a rare honor for most AmeriKKKans let alone a woman of African ancestry. I find it interesting that in death Mrs. Parks was accorded such and honor. The passing of a dignified and humble woman whose strong will, quiet strength and indomitable spirit was the catalyst that sparked the movement to dismantle government sanctioned racial caste in Alabama and subsequently the whole nation merits such a gesture. Her quiet courage and dogged determination set the standard by which we should judge ourselves and our lives. At a time when people of African descent had no rights white folks were obligated to respect, Rosa Parks by refusing to acquiesce to racial caste, legalized dehumanization and terrorism helped galvanize us as a people to respect ourselves, to reaffirm our humanity and demand our right to be treated with dignity. I found it interesting that people who in my view hold many of the same views and opinions about black folks and people of color in general that Mrs. Parks transcended filed by the casket containing her earthly remains at a ceremony honoring her today in Washington D.C. The Associated Press called the roll of many Washington dignitaries who “paid their respects” to the former seamstress and NAACP Secretary, people like
George W Bush, the noted warmonger his partner in crime Donald Rumsfeld and Michael Chertoff head of FEMA who certainly did not help the reputation of the federal government by the abysmal way his agency responded to Hurricane Katrina. Senator Bill Frist the Republican Senate leader and Supreme Court Justice nominee Samuel Alito were mentioned in the AP article. Far be it from me to speculate about their motives for attending Mrs. Parks memorial or the make up of their hearts. Perhaps they came to pay homage to the life and spirit of Mrs Parks. But I will say, the measure of paying homage to someone’s character and purpose goes beyond mere photo ops and charades of respect.
The same goes for all the black people who are essentially spectators in life. Unlike Rosa Parks they have not committed to anything noble or life changing. Far too many of us are content letting the Rosa Parks of the world take all the risks, go to jail and suffer. Our applause and admiration of Mrs. Parks rings hollow if we are not willing to commit ourselves to something worthwhile, purposeful and honorable to make this world a better place! What could be more honorable than standing up (or in Mrs. Parks case remaining seated) for yourself, your people and social change? Granted we all can’t be Rosa Parks, but there were hundreds and thousands of other folk who rallied around her and supported the bus boycott, their nickels, dimes and dollars helped pay lawyers to defend her and appeal her conviction all the way to the US Supreme Court. And they rightly shared in her victory when she/they won! Many of the working class black folks of Montgomery Alabama lost their jobs, faced intimidation and threats because of their support of the boycott, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mrs. Parks. Nevertheless they stood together and buoyed each other up. Another little known statistic is that during the 381 day bus boycott crime went down in the black community. Black folks were so focused and so united, black on black crime went down in Montgomery Alabama during the tension filled time of the bus boycott. Black folks realized the need to stick together, trust each other and lean on one another. not prey on or exploit one another. We as a people need to revisit and reprise that pattern.
What does the life of Rosa Parks mean to you? If anything? What lessons can we glean and take from what she stood for and accomplished to make our lives more meaningful and purposeful? It is fitting, right and well we pause and remember Rosa Parks. It is imperative we not forget her courage, her strong will and determination and that she remain a Shero to and for us. But that is not enough. We must follow her example, get involved and believe we can make a difference. Whether it is opposing an evil like racial discrimination and caste, Bu$h’s war or the lack of vision and purpose in our communities or in our lives, we must emulate Mrs. Park and take action! Do something to make a difference. Make this world a better place. That is the lesson, legacy and charge of Rosa Parks.

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