Monday, February 4, 2013

Observing the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rosa Parks

"I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear." - Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks was born one hundred years ago today, February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Four decades later she would engage in a moment that would transform the United States of America through nonviolent action. Before the 1960 lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. there was Rosa Parks. On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama sitting in the back of the bus [the area reserved for African Americans during Segregation] the "white" section having been filled to capacity with a white man standing the bus driver told Rosa Parks to stand up and give her seat to him. 

Rosa Parks refused and she was arrested, finger printed, photographed, jailed and fined $14 dollars for refusing to give up her seat. This action would lead to the Montgomery bus boycott that would inspire people of good will to action. Civil rights pioneer Rev. James Lawson on June 20, 2010 described what it was like to learn of the boycott:
"December 6, 1955 that was the date when many people in the world learned of the beginning of the Montgomery bus boycott in MontgomeryAlabama; a very simple stroke it was not initially called a non-violent movement. But Rosa Parks, Ed Nixon, Mary Jo Robinson, Martin King, Ralph Abernathy, and a host of other people who engaged that first effort sent a wave of hope around the world."

Rosa Parks would go on to live a long and productive life and passed away on October 24, 2005 at the age of 92. She was laid in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Rosa Parks was the first woman and second non-government official to be honored in such a manner.

Today, a hundred years after Rosa Parks was born, women in Cuba inspired by her example have organized a movement, Rosa Parks Women's Civil Rights Movement , named after the civil rights pioneer and are engaged in marches and demonstrations in defense of human rights in Cuba. Much has been achieved since 1955 but challenges still remain and for Cuban women the battle for basic human rights continues.

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