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64 yrs ago,"pushed as far as I could stand to be pushed," Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus.She was a longtime activist around criminal justice, voting rights, desegregation but her bus stand was not planned that day. 6 key points to get us beyond the myths:
Rosa Parks was not passive or meet or quiet in key moments. In fact, that day when the police came to asked her why she didn't move, she spoke back, "Why do you push us around?" One of the officers was surprised, "I don't know. But the law is the law & you're under arrest."
She was not the first. A trickle of resistors--Viola White, Geneva Johnson, Mary Wingfield, Claudette Colvin, Mary Louise Smith--had all been arrested for their refusals.Rosa Parks had fundraised for Colvin's case & encouraged Colvin's work in the NAACP Youth Council that summer.
Parks been active for 2 decades before her arrest--getting her start w/ her husband with the Scottsboro case.4 days before her stand, she'd gone to a packed mass meeting because the two men who'd killed Emmett Till had been acquitted.Despairing and angry, 4 days later, she acted.
What was so courageous about what Rosa Parks did that night was her persevering vision.She'd made stands before, others had too;there was nothing to suggest taking this stand would do anything & great physical & economic risk for doing so.(She would lose her job.)Still she acted.
But what turned her stand into a movement was a community who'd reached their breaking point & sprang into action.The boycott began Dec. 5th as a 1-day boycott, called by the Women's Political Council. Feeling the power and unity of that 1st day, people decided to keep going.
What sustained a 382 day boycott was not walking but a massively well-organized carpool system with 40 pickup stations across town, giving 10,000-15,000 rides a day. The police ticketed the carpool mercilessly. In Feb., the city arrested 89 boycott leaders including Rosa Parks.
The resolve of Montgomery's Black community continued.They filed a federal court case against Montgomery's bus segregation. Colvin & Smith were 2 of 4 women plaintiffs.The Supreme Court sided with them.On Dec 20, 1956, Montgomery's buses were desegregated.
Make no mistake: Rosa Park had "a life history of being rebellious," as she put it. She fought against police brutality, served on many prisoner defense committees, believed in reparations and welfare rights, fought for more just US foreign policy.Her personal hero-- Malcolm X.
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