Saturday, 5 November 2016

Just Like Rosa Parks, don’t be afraid to say “NO”

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Photo credit: http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/par0gal-1
Rosa Parks is known as the mother of the ‘Civil Rights’ movement and she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal(the highest honor the United States bestows on a civilian) , because she initiated an anti-segregation movement in the USA when she said ‘NO’ to a Bus driver in Montgomery, USA in 1955.
In those days in the USA, Black people were forbidden to attend the same schools as Whites, they could only attend inferior schools that were reserved for them. They could not drink water from the same fountains as Whites, they had inferior fountains reserved for them. Even though they made up 70% of the people who regularly took the municipal bus, they could not occupy the front seats, because those were reserved for Whites, their place was at the back. These are just a few of the restrictions that Black people had at the time. Segregation was written into the law. But on the 1st of December 1955, Rosa Parks said ‘NO’, and a wind of change blew!
This is what happened: On going back home from work, Rosa took a municipal bus, and occupied a seat in the first row of seats after the last row of seats occupied by Whites. A White man came into the bus later and wanted to sit down. Of course he couldn’t go to the back, because as a White he was entitled to seat in front of the bus, so the bus driver ordered the Blacks on the first row of seats after the Whites already seated to wake up and move to the next row of seats behind, so that that White man could seat, and probably other Whites who came after him. Each row contained 4 seats, and the 3 Blacks who occupied 3 of the 4 seats obeyed the bus driver and went behind, but Rosa Parks refused to obey. She remained on the seat. Her refusal drew the attention of the police who later arrested her.
That was when the Blacks in that community decided to act. They came together and started planning on how to make their voices heard. On December 5 1955, Rosa Parks was found guilty of violating segregation laws, given a suspended sentence and fined $10 plus $4 in court costs. Meanwhile a united Black community had started a Bus Boycott, which angered the White population of Montgomery to the extend that they made Rosa Parks loss her job and they bombed the houses of the Blacks leading the Boycott. Martin Luther King Jr was one of them, and he was only 26 at the time. The violence did not stop the boycotters, and one year after, the US supreme court ruled that Bus segregation was unconstitutional.
To think that all this began when Rosa Parks said ‘NO’. In her autobiography, she wrote:“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically… No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” 

How many times have we lost an opportunity to make History and stop a vice just because we were too afraid to say ‘NO’? Let us be inspired by Rosa Parks, she was tired of giving-in to Segregation and when she had an opportunity not to give in, she took it! If she did it, we can!!


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