Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rosa's Hope

Rosa was small, even for a child.

She suffered poor health and had chronic tonsillitis.

When her parents separated, she moved with her mother and never forgot the day when the Ku Klux Klan marched down the street in front of her house. Her grandfather guarded their front door with a shotgun.

Rosa took academic and vocational courses, but was forced to drop out of school to care for her grandmother, and later her mother, after they became ill.

While in elementary school, she often wondered why school buses would transport white students to their new school while black students had to walk to theirs.

After marriage, Rosa took numerous jobs, ranging from domestic worker to hospital aide. At her husband's urging, she graduated high school at a time when less than 7% of African Americans had a high school diploma.

Older and wiser at 42, this humble, black woman made a decision that throttled all of America.

65 years ago - on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks took a stand by deciding to sit down and say "no".

65 years ago, Rosa refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger.

65 years ago, Rosa performed a single, life-defining act that changed an entire country; the kind of thing movies are made of.

Although widely honored in later years for her action, Rosa suffered for it. She lost her job as a seamstress in a local department store. But eventually, she moved to Detroit and found similar work before serving as a secretary for a U.S. congressman.

Long before Martin Luther King became the spokesman for the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks was its soul. A 5-foot-1 acorn of a seamstress who stood up to powerful, narrow-minded oak tress and inspired hope for millions of African-Americans.

As Rosa discovered, once you choose hope, anything is possible.

And it was her hope that forever changed the path for every passenger on a much bigger bus.

A bus called America.

"People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in"

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