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calendar   Tuesday - October 25, 2005

Obituary

Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan are not fit to sit at this brave woman’s feet. She did more to end racism in this country by just sitting down and quietly saying “no” than all three have done with all their screaming and blackmail. She will be missed. Rest in peace, Mrs. Parks ...

imageimageRosa Parks (1913-2005)
DETROIT (AP)

Nearly 50 years ago, Rosa Parks made a simple decision that sparked a revolution. When a white man demanded she give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, the then 42-year-old seamstress said no. At the time, she couldn’t have known it would secure her a revered place in American history. But her one small act of defiance galvanized a generation of activists, including a young Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and earned her the title “mother of the civil rights movement.”

Mrs. Parks died Monday evening at her home of natural causes, with close friends by her side, said Gregory Reed, an attorney who represented her for the past 15 years. She was 92. Monique Reynolds, 37, a native of Montgomery, Ala., called Mrs. Parks an inspiration who had lived to see the changes brought about by the civil rights movement.

“Martin Luther King never saw this, Malcolm X never saw this,” said Reynolds, who now lives in Detroit. “She was able to see this and enjoy it.” In 1955, Jim Crow laws in place since the post-Civil War Reconstruction required separation of the races in buses, restaurants and public accommodations throughout the South, while legally sanctioned racial discrimination kept blacks out of many jobs and neighborhoods in the North.

Mrs. Parks, an active member of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was riding on a city bus Dec. 1, 1955, when a white man demanded her seat. She refused, despite rules requiring blacks to yield their seats to whites. Two black Montgomery women had been arrested earlier that year on the same charge, but Mrs. Parks was jailed. She also was fined $14.

U.S. Rep John Conyers, in whose office Mrs. Parks worked for more than 20 years, remembered the civil rights leader as someone whose impact on the world was immeasurable, but who never sought the limelight. “Everybody wanted to explain Rosa Parks and wanted to teach Rosa Parks, but Rosa Parks wasn’t very interested in that,” he said. “She wanted them to understand the government and to understand their rights and the Constitution that people are still trying to perfect today.”

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said he felt a personal tie to the civil rights icon: “She stood up by sitting down. I’m only standing here because of her.” Speaking in 1992, Mrs. Parks said history too often maintains “that my feet were hurting and I didn’t know why I refused to stand up when they told me. But the real reason of my not standing up was I felt that I had a right to be treated as any other passenger. We had endured that kind of treatment for too long.”

Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system organized by a then little-known Baptist minister, the Rev. King, who later earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. “At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this,” she said 30 years later. “It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.”

The Montgomery bus boycott, which came one year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark declaration that separate schools for blacks and whites were “inherently unequal,” marked the start of the modern civil rights movement. The movement culminated in the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act, which banned racial discrimination in public accommodations.

After taking her public stand for civil rights, Mrs. Parks had trouble finding work in Alabama. Amid threats and harassment, she and her husband, Raymond, moved to Detroit in 1957. She worked as an aide in Conyers’ Detroit office from 1965 until retiring Sept. 30, 1988. Raymond Parks died in 1977. Mrs. Parks said upon retiring from her job with Conyers that she wanted to devote more time to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. The institute, incorporated in 1987, is devoted to developing leadership among Detroit’s young people and initiating them into the struggle for civil rights.

“Rosa Parks: My Story,” was published in February 1992. In 1994 she brought out “Quiet Strength: The Faith, the Hope and the Heart of a Woman Who Changed a Nation,” and in 1996 a collection of letters called “Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue With Today’s Youth.”

- Go Read More Of This Courageous Woman’s Story Here


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/25/2005 at 11:22 AM   
Filed Under: • Racism and race relations •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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