Rosa Parks: But She Sat!
Yesterday Rosa Parks, the symbol of the 50's Civil Rights Movement, died at a ripe old age. Everywhere we are hearing how her bold move to sit in a segregated bus "ignited" the Civil Rights Movement. without disrespecting Egun Parks I would like to put her actions into a different perspective. The movie "The Barber Shop" sparked controversy when one of it's characters minimized Rosa Parks actions that fateful day. But students of history know that while the comment may have been crude, it was bassed in fact. The fact of the matter is that others before Rosa Parks had in fact sat in the face of the same order. Civil Rights organizations chose not to make those incidences rallying points because of some "character flaw" in the oppressed individual. One such individual was a single mother of the "lower economic class" to take a phrase from Bill Cosby. The leadership at that time did not feel that such a person would be "right" for a challenge to the segregation laws in Montgomery Al.
This is significant because it exposes a few overlooked issues. First there was already a movement, however flawed,against the Montgomery segregation laws. Also said movement involved many women whome are usually overlooked in favor of men, MLK Jr. in particular. Lastly, the simmerling class issues within black communities that deemed a single mother as being not 'suitable" to represent resistance to segregation.
Thus, while we honor Egun Parks for being bold when so many were not we should think on those others who's acts of defiance were never reported on, who probably died in the woods somewhere on some tree, or like Emmett Till, found themselves in a river. These people also deserve recognitions just as the "unknown soldiers" are recognized. We should also address the class problem in Black communities where we do not see the crimes done to our poorer bretheren as being "not as bad" as one done to someone of "higher standing."
So I salute Egun Parks for being one of many who resisted injustice in their own way.