Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rosa Parks and The Power of a Committed Person

Marian Wright Edelman tells her grandaughter this story:
One of the proudest moments in my life was waiting with you, Ellika, [her grandchild] when you were four years old on the steps of our nation’s Capitol for Mrs. Rosa Parks to arrive.

In the beautiful twilight of a perfect day, a bus draped in black symbolizing the Montgomery Bus Boycott arrived followed by a hearse carrying Mrs. Parks moving very slowly past very long lines of people circling the Capitol waiting to say thanks and farewell to her. As the integrated military honor guard lifted Mrs. Parks up the Capitol steps in precise cadences towards the rotunda where the President of the United States, leaders of Congress, and other dignitaries awaited her—an unassuming black seamstress who had the courage to sit down for justice and make all American stand up—I squeezed you tight and whispered through tears of gratitude: “Never ever forget what one committed black woman—one single person—can do.”

Source: Marian Wright Edelman, The Sea is So Wide and My Boat is So Small (New York: Hyperion, 2008), 68-69.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Rosa Parks on a bus.