Open any history book about the Civil Rights Movement and you will see several well- known individuals that are famous for their part in a crusade for freedom. Among these giants in history is Rosa Parks, best known for her defiance of an oppressive law that segregated busing by color in Montgomery and the south. She is one of the most famous women in our history by one act of civil disobedience, or was it just one act. During one of the most racial unrest in our country’s history, Rosa Parks took a stand for equality by not giving up her seat on the bus. This seat wasn’t just any seat, it was her seat, bought and paid for. Perception of what truly took place on that fateful evening December 01, 1955, has been discussed in classrooms, in coffee shops, around Sunday dinners, and countless other settings over time. Although some vary on their perception of Mrs. Parks and her true intent, what did transpire from her rebellious act was a revolution. What can be said is that Mrs. Parks had reached her limit on that particular evening, a fact that has not been debated, but what has been discussed is whether or not her involvement was intentional.
Rosa Parks had been very aware of the racial violence in Montgomery, Alabama. In fact, she and her husband Raymond were very active in their local chapter of the NAACP, with Rosa serving as the secretary from 1943 to 1956. We should not assume her fatigue as being the sole reason for her refusal to give up her seat, because her role was so much more. To have the courage to protest against a culture is not a choice one makes easily, but there are situations and times where protest is the only way to move forward. We have been granted certain rights to create amendments to the Constitution because the foundation of the laws may change over time as our society changes.
When speaking of discrimination against a race of humans, the hatred that predicated the culture must be eradicated. This type of cultural overhaul would have and could have only been done through civil disobedience because these were laws in the segregated south were barbaric, inhumane and were enforced judiciously. A revolution was the only way to wake our society up and actually inform the rest of the country of the horrors that happened everywhere but to a much deeper extent in the south. Protesting is our Right under the 1st Amendment for a reason, we must understand that we can and should exercise this Right when inhumane treatment is being enforced on a sector of humans for reasons of race, gender, religion, and any other factor that differs from White America.
There are a few reasons in our history that may provide an understanding as to why some may diminish Mrs. Park’s role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. One is the misconception that she was just simply too tired to give up her seat that night. Another possible reason is that she was not the first African American to refuse to give up a seat on the bus. In fact, there were two other women before her in Montgomery. In March of 1955, Claudette Colvin, who was 15 at the time, was also arrested for refusing to give up her seat as well as Mary Louise Smith, 18, who was arrested as well for refusal to comply in April 1955. These young women were too young and had some other family factors that ultimately led to Rosa Park’s arrest as the face and voice for the bus boycott. It was all of these brave individuals who should be remembered and honored for bringing about change in our country’s history and creating an awareness that we are all humans and color should play no part in our laws.
Reference (along with textbook and article provided)
Carson, C./ Lapsansky-Werner, E./ Nash, G. The Struggle for Freedom: A History of African Americans; Volume II. Since 1865. (434-437). The Montgomery Bus Boycott and The Southern Christian Leadership Conference. 2007.