December 1st, 1955. That was the day that would years later become my birthday. But more important, that was the day that Rosa Parks grew sick and tired of being sick and tired. And the down-trodden everywhere thank her for it.
On that day 50 years ago, Miss Rosa would not be moved, refused to give up her bus seat — in the back, in the infamous Colored Section — to a white man. She probably figured she was already sitting atop the motor. What did they want? Her outside hanging onto the bumper, knees scraping the rough Alabama roads for a ride?
Miss Rosa she said she wasn’t physically tired. More than that, Rosa Parks said she was fed up with having to accommodate racism. She was a “Kanye West” long before he was born, too. Hers was a magical moment of mass connectivity, much like West’s when he said on national television, “George Bush doesn’t like Black people.” Both did something akin to firing bulletless shots heard round the world. Except the slug fired by the immovable Rosa Parks actually led people to act.
Then 42, Miss Rosa’s refusal to unseat sparked a year-long bus boycott that triggered a seismic change in the American experience for people of African descent. Her revolution was not televised; she didn’t even have a mic. She just reached her tipping point, and her tipping point became one that jolted the earth. Making her the Earth Mother of the Civil Rights movement.
Now at 92, Rosa Parks has died. Finally, she got off the bus — that bumpy ride called life, God rest her soul. For the rest of us, the bus ride — the struggle for equality — continues.
One of the best ways to honor the memory of Rosa Parks is to teach children about her, show them her as a great example of integrity. Tell them as Miss Rosa might have from that old bus seat back in Montgomery: If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.