Sunday, October 30, 2005

Rosa Parks to Lie in Honor

Civil rights legend Rosa Parks will be given an unprecedented honor on Monday when her body lies in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. It is a fitting tribute to the woman than sparked the peaceful - and most effective - aspects of the civil rights movement. (Montgomery Advertiser: Crowds honor civil rights legend Rosa Parks).

The lesson Parks taught the nation in 1955 was that a single act of civil disobedience could inspire a nation. That the actions of one woman could make such a huge difference. The snowball Rosa Parks set in motion on December 1, 1955 would result in a Supreme Court ruling banning segregation on public transportation. It would lead to the integration of the nations public colleges. It would inspire a young man by the name of Martin Luther King Jr. to lead the most peaceful civil rights movement the world has ever seen. What Rosa Parks did would ultimately lead to minority men and women holding the highest positions possible in our government. So yes, it is only fitting that she lie in honor in the Rotunda.

What many today don't realize is that there were very different factions in the civil rights movement, and each faction had their own agenda. Of the various factions, it was ultimately the peaceful movement lead by Dr. King that succeeded. The more radical movements headed by Malcolm X and Elijah Mohammed along with groups such as the Black Panthers either promoted violent revolution or sought "separate but equal" status. Sadly, none of the leaders of today's civil rights movement are in the same mold and mindset of Rosa Parks or Dr. King. Today's leaders preach a message of hatred; something that Dr. King would have abhorred.

The lessons taught by Rosa Parks are still valid today. It was not violence that fostered dramatic change in the area of civil rights. It was not a message of hatred that fostered it. It was not an attitude that blamed everyone else for every problem that fostered it. That is something that today's civil rights leaders need to learn. Sadly, today's leaders are setting race relations back decades. They are not only part of the problem, they are the problem. They would do well to learn from Rosa Parks.


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