Parks#039; act set nation on road to healing

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 27, 2005

Each American - regardless of skin color - should mourn the loss Rosa Parks.

Described by some as the &#8220mother of the modern civil rights movement,” Parks was thrust into the national spotlight on Dec. 1, 1955, when the 42-year-old seamstress politely refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger.

At the time a City of Montgomery (Ala.) law required black riders to give up their seats when white riders needed them.

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When white riders boarded that day, Parks wouldn't budge. She wasn't the first, but she was the first to pursue the matter in court with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in support.

Parks' simple act of civil disobedience sparked the beginning of the civil rights movement and did so by using non-violent means.

Blacks throughout the South rose up in support of Parks and her cause, their cause. In Montgomery, 42,000 blacks refused to ride public transportation in protest to the city-sanctioned racism.

A young minister was asked to lead the Montgomery bus boycott. At the time Martin Luther King Jr. was almost unheard of outside the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church of which he pastored.

That soon changed as Parks' action drew national attention.

Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Parks' fine for breaking the Montgomery law and in doing so ordered an end to the segregation on the city's public transportation.

The simple act had set in motion a series of events that would push the nation to the breaking point. It would be 10 years of turmoil before the United States eventually pass the Civil Rights Act of 1965.

Today, some 50 years after Parks decided that the practice of treating people differently because of skin color went against the American values we hold so dear, we can still learn volumes from her defiant yet peaceful act.

Parks is certainly has a first-class seat on the bus to heaven after her courageous act.