In honor of the U.S.'s upcoming Black History Month and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Day, I wrote
this article about a person who helped advance the movement for equality among all
Courage. When most people think of courage, they think of soldiers or
firefighters. However, a courageous person isn't always the strongest or the
most daring. Sometimes courage is in a woman on a bus. On December 1, 1955, one
woman on a bus had courage. And that woman was Rosa Parks.
Most of you know the story. In 1955, African-Americans could not sit in the same
section of a bus as Caucasians -- or drink from the same water fountains, go to
the same schools, get the same jobs, etc. One December evening, Mrs. Parks boarded the bus
after a long day of work. When she got on the bus, she wasn't planning on
starting a civil rights fight. But she did. As the bus filled up with people,
the seats became valuable -- even the ones in the "Colored Section." When a
white man told Mrs. Parks to get out of her seat for him, she refused.
The NAACP (National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People) had been searching for a while to find a good
person to start the bus boycott. The first two people arrested on buses were
dismissed as too young. They wouldn't be able to hold up under the press coverage.
But when Rosa Parks showed up, it was like hitting the jackpot. She was poised
and above moral reproach. She was married and had a steady job. She was even
secretary of the local chapter of the NAACP.
Once Mrs. Parks
agreed to help, pamphlets went around town announcing, "We are... asking
every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial...
You can afford to stay out of school for one day. If you work, take a cab, or
walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don't ride the bus at all on Monday.
Please stay off the buses Monday." And so it began.
But what about before this happened? Everyone knows what happened but very few
people know about Ms. Parks before this point. She had been involved in the
NAACP before and fought for African-American rights, but she didn't get into the spotlight
then. In fact, 12 years
before her arrest, she was thrown off a bus by the same driver who had her
arrested in 1955.
Rosa was born Rosa Louise McCauley in 1913. She was enrolled in a private school
where she had to clean rooms to pay her tuition. She worked hard to get through
school, but didn't get her high school degree until later in her life. She had
to drop out because of her sick mother. In 1934 she managed to receive
her diploma, when she was 21. She also attended college. After college, Rosa
settled down in Montgomery with her husband, Raymond Parks.
Mrs. Parks had worked in the NAACP with her husband before her arrest. As she
herself said, "I worked on numerous cases with the NAACP but we did not get the
publicity. There were cases of flogging, peonage, murder, and rape. We didn't
seem to have too many successes. It was more a matter of trying to challenge the
powers that be, and to let it be known that we did not wish to continue being
second-class citizens." And that's exactly what Rosa Parks did on that December
day, long ago. She challenged the powers that be.
Courage isn't in how big your muscles are or even how big your brain is. It's in
how big your heart is. Rosa Parks had a huge heart and was full of
determination. And that's what makes a courageous person.
My sources were:
This is Hermionez, signing off.