When Rosa Parks refused to get up, an entire race of people began to stand up for their rights as human beings.
It was a simple act that took extraordinary courage in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955. It was a place where black people had no rights white people had to respect. It was a time when racial discrimination was so common, many blacks never questioned it.
At least not out loud.
But then came Rosa Parks.
This mild-mannered black woman refused to give up her seat on a city bus so a white man could sit down.
Jim Crow laws had met their match.
Parks’ refusal infused 50,000 blacks in Montgomery with the will to walk rather than risk daily humiliation on the city’s buses.
This gentle giant, whose quietness belied her toughness, became the catalyst for a movement that broke the back of legalized segregation in the United States, gave rise to the astounding leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and inspired fighters for freedom and justice throughout the world.
Parks, the beloved mother of the civil rights movement, is dead, a family member confirmed late Monday.
Rest in peace Mrs. Parks. You are indeed a testament to Edmund Burke’s saying that: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” You stood up when it matters and the rest as they say is history.