Gallery of art and thoughts

The cartoons and contemplations of a twentysomething copy editor.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rosa Parks, 1913-2005

Rosa Parks is dead at 92. By her simple yet courageous act of refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, she started a process that ensured that African-Americans would receive fair and equal treatment under the law. She is one of this country's greatest heroines.

I remember, ten years ago, one day in high school when our 1960s history teacher had us simulate a bus trip in 1950s Montgomery. Those of us who were assigned to play the roles of African-Americans had to move to the back of the bus. We experienced -- albeit only for a few seconds -- what it felt like to be discriminated against. It's important to remember that this sanctioned inequality really did happen in the US, but it's equally important to remember that there were people like Parks who had the courage to do something about it.

Although I'm sure the remembrances of Parks will all be positive, her reception was anything but back in the 1950s. Only by recalling how intense was Southern hatred of African-Americans can we comprehend the depth of Rosa Parks' courage.

Other news of interest: Intriguing books about al-Qaeda and Mao Tse-tung are out. And Fritz Stern mulls the conditions that made it possible for Nazism to flourish in Germany.


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