Sarah and Gwen: the Two-Headed Monster

This blog is about everything involving Lexington, KY or anything else we feel like yapping about.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Best Kind of Character

Rosa Parks embodied the best of the human spirit, that all too rare blend of courage and morality. Most Americans know the story of how she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus to a white man. We have heard the stories of her arrest for violating the Jim Crow laws and how it sparked an era of boycotts, marches, and other forms of civil disobedience that ultimately led to the end of segregation. What we don't often hear about is the work she and others were already doing in Montgomery. We do not hear about the small group of women friends who stayed up all night running flyers off on a mimeograph machine and distributing them throughout the city. We do not hear as much about the courage it took to risk jobs and livelihoods to participate in the boycott.

Rosa Parks was not accidentally brought to the forefront of the civil rights movement. She was the secretary of her local NAACP chapter. She had been to a civil rights workshop. She was an activist, a woman with the courage of her convictions and the moral character to carry the weight of the load she was given. As Mrs. Parks sat quietly in her cell, reading her bible, she was counting on her friends to expose the festering wound our nation was suffering. Her friends were ready for the task. The spread the word quickly through the city. They gave of their time and energy to make change happen.

The example Rosa Parks set inspired neighbors to help neighbors get to jobs and stores without the use of city buses. It brought national civil rights leaders to Montgomery and inspired white America to realize that they too were people of color.

Mrs. Parks said that if she had thought about her actions she might have gotten off that bus. Her defiance cost her job. Her continued efforts for the civil rights movement brought her countless death threats. She never stopped speaking out. She never gave up the fight. I for one am glad she didn't think too long about that bus ride. The world needed her quiet dignity and inner strength. She risked everything, including her life, for the greater good. We still need the simple greatness of individuals. The world will long remember the actions of a woman who once tried not to think too long about the personal consequences of doing what was right. Those moments when her name is mentioned will always be touched with sorrow for the loss of Rosa Parks.


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