My Drawing of Rosa Parks. Used Pencil and Watercolors
As Black History month comes to an end I would like to shine the light on one of the most influential role models in history, Rosa Parks. She helped pave the way to gain equality for all. I am still in disbelief how we could treat other human beings this way just because of color, of race, of being different. When it comes down to it we are all the same, we are all humans but just come in different colors like a crayon box.
Many of us will never know the experiences people faced head on with racism and inequality in their day to day life. I am forever grateful we have evolved where I am able to go anywhere and do about just anything like everyone else. Even though we have grown from it there is still work to do because of lingering inequality we face even if ever so slightly.
I myself have experienced this in my personal life, not as much as others but it has stayed with me forever, making me aware we do not all look the same and are treated differently because of it. I am half white and half Hispanic but with my brown skin tone many would assume I am full Hispanic.
I faced this realization of inequality in middle school on the basketball team. One day the coach had split us up into two lines interrogating us because someone had stolen an item from the gym. One line consisted those who were thought to have committed the crime and the other line was innocent. I was part of the assumed guilty group and as I looked down the line I saw all were of color, Hispanics and Blacks. Turns out none of the assumed guilty had done the crime.
This has never left me, had dented my self-confidence and put up a shield at that time which has taken me time to put down.
Below I list the top equality attributes/deeds done by this extraordinary woman and how we can implement this in our own lives. Let’s not forgot our history for we do not want to repeat it, treat others equally in the present and pave the future for others to live in an equal loving world.
Photo by NY Times
1. Rosa Parks stood her ground or we can say literally sat her seat no matter what anyone told her. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks paid her bus fare and sat at an empty seat in the first row in the “colored” section. Her row was directly behind the ten seats reserved for white passengers.
Soon all of the white-only seats in the bus filled up and to make room for the next group of white passengers she was ordered to move back to have room for the whites. Three others moved but she did not knowing all along this was wrong. She felt, “they had endured too long, the more we gave in, the more we complied with that treatment, the more oppressive it became.”
Lesson: No matter if someone tells you you are wrong or others follow suite, follow your heart and at the end you will win in victory.
2. After being arrested for a so called crime she had her trial on December 5th where the WPC came together to protest by distributing over 35,000 leaflets reading, “We are asking every Negro to stay off the buses on Monday in protest of the arrest and trial of Rosa Parks. If you work take a cab, or walk but please children and grown-ups, don’t ride the bus all Monday.
Lesson: When you stand up for what you believe in for the betterment of all then others will rise, will support or at least you will make an impact/touch others in some way to move in that direction.
3. Parks became active in the Civil Rights Movements with such leaders as Martin Luther King and member of the NAACP as secretary. Parks investigated the gang-rape of Recy Taylor, a black woman from Abbeville, Alabama where she helped to organize the “Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor. The Chicago defender would go on to say it was “the strongest campaign for equal justice to be seen in a decade.”
Lesson: If you are passionate about something join a group such as a Meetup or Facebook group that have like minded folks where you can relate to each other. As a group you are stronger by putting your heads together for ideas to move your passion/ideals forward to the community.
4. She was honored for her actions in later years but suffered during those times by being fired from her job as a seamstress in a local department store along with receiving death threats. On the other hand it opened doors for her where she served as a secretary and receptionist for John Conyers, an African American U.S. Representative.
Lesson: During the times when she was working towards equality she faced many hardships but kept moving forward not giving up. The road to what you are meant to do in life will not be smooth and easy, it will be tough with bumps along the way but have faith for this is only a test of strength to keep going into achieving more than you could imagine.
5. Her past was growing up in a poor family, having to drop out of school to care for her grandmother. She recalled going to elementary school where the school buses took white students to their new school but black students had to walk theirs. She preserved to attain her degree where at the time less than 7% of African Americans had a high school diploma.
Lesson: Let’s not have our past be a crutch or form our present and future selves but let it be a learning tool to overcome those obstacles to become our better selves from it.
6. After going through all these experiences she wrote her story, in 1992 she published Rosa Parks: My Story, an autobiography recounting her life in the South. Later she continued her passion by publishing, Quiet Strength in 1995 which is of her memoirs.
Lesson: When you go through hardships in your life share them with others through a positive creative tool such as painting, music, writing, comedy or however you like to express your feelings. This way you are showing others they are not alone and to help give them confidence to rise above for what they believe in as well.
7. Her legacy continued even after her death by celebrating her through memorial ceremonies. A commemorative U.S. Postal Service stamp, called the Rosa Parks Forever stamp was created in honor of her. Shortly after President Barack Obama unveiled a statue honoring Parks in the nation’s Capitol building. Her legacy lives on and lived a long life at 93 passing away quietly in her home.
Lesson: Remember we only have a short time here on earth so let’s make the best of it. Follow what’s in your hearts, for you at the end and others will know you followed your true self and not that of others.
One of the top 5 regrets of the dying is that they didn’t follow their true selves but instead tried to please others. Rosa Parks rose above following her belief not letting anyone tell her otherwise. Keep this in mind yourself when confronted with an obstacle to stand up and show your rights.
Sources: Wikipedia and www.biography.com