I first read about her in "A Testament Of Hope - The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.", compiled by Harper Collins. He describes her resilience in the face of tyranny in one of his essays, "Our Struggle" (1956). Indeed, he quotes (and now I quote) Mrs. Parks as saying, "It was a matter of dignity; I could not have faced myself and my people if I had moved."
Her resistance was the catalyst for the social rights movement that soon overwhelmed the United States of America like an unstoppable wave. It provided a perspective, a context, for ordinary Americans to see the social injustice that permeated the social fabric, till every nook and cranny of society was filled with it. She stood up for the rights of black men and women, set and example for her people to live with dignity and pride. Not to be disheartened and trampled upon by the demon of unfair treatment. Not to be restricted by the chains and shackles that held them back from living a meaningful life. She was one of the pioneering catalysts for the true realization of American freedom for black men and women. A heroine of her time.
Hmmm... but a part of the social injustice still lingers on. Though I can't pin-point any real examples, one can still detect the hostility and racism when southerners in America still call the Afro-Americans "niggers" and "dirt". But at least from a legal point of view, Afro-Americans, and other minority groups, have achieved full equal status alongside their white brothers.
It seems her death prompted me to have another look at the movie "Remember The Titans". It was another movie about social segregation, about how one high school football coach, Herman Boone united the racially-segregated T.C. Williams High School, and eventually inspired the entire Alexandria, VA town with T.C. William's school spirit. Now that's a real story to take a look at too.
Update 28 October 2005:
Rosa Parks Links (best results rendered from Jux2.com)
- GrandTimes.com Article: http://www.grandtimes.com/rosa.html
- Time 100: http://www.time.com/time/time100/heroes/profile/parks01.html
- Academy of Achievement: http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/par0bio-1
- Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_Parks