December 1, 1955, Rosa refused to move to the back of the bus.
55 years ago, a tired seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama challenged racial segregation in the United States. Rosa Parks has always been one of my heroes, ever since I wrote my high school senior thesis on how this woman became a catalyst for change. Today, we honor Rosa Parks!
The story is well-known to us all. Rosa refused to sit in the back of the bus, as segregation laws dictated. I had always assumed her actions were initiated when she first chose her seat on the bus, but history explains it a little differently. Scholastic explains:
Her subsequent arrest sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Rosa is often soley credited as the one that started it all, as I have done above. She has been accused of being a “ mythic ” icon and a communist. Conspiracists cite that she had already been working for the NAACP for over a decade before that infamous bus ride and point to the staged photograph on the bus as evidence the event was not happenstance.
Does any of this slander matter? Not to me. Who cares whether she acted alone or not. Obviously without the support of the NAACP, her actions would not have turned into one of the finest examples of civil disobedience. Teaching Tolerance summarizes it well:
I admit, I don’t know these people’s names, and I wish I did. In fact, it was the other bus defiers, like Colvin , whose arrests were actually used in the federal case that declared segregation practices by Montgomery’s buses unconstitutional, not Rosa’s. Rosa Parks Facts explains:
Teaching Tolerance continues:
55 years ago, Rosa reminded citizens of the US that we needed to change things drastically in order to live up to our ideals of all people created equal. I don’t care if she was chosen because her “character was unimpeachable”. She’s still my hero.
Teaching Tolerance reminds us:
How can we honor Rosa? We can tell our children her story, as well as those that came before her. We can illuminate inequalities current in our society. We can remember there are countless people whose names we do not know who have fought for civil rights. We can inspire our children to work for social justice.
You may be wondering what social justice has to do with raising an environmentally responsible child. Not only are racial inequalities evident in issues such as transportation, but often poor minority communities are victims of toxic factories and contamination. You can’t be environmentally conscious and ignore social inequalities that result from detrimental practices (including cheap, toxic, plastic toys). The environment may not be the focus of Rosa’s activism, but she is a role model for our children.
Our children need heroes.