2005-10-28 / Community

Meeks Praises Life Of Rosa Parks

Congressman Gregory Meeks recently issued a statement upon the death of civil rights icon Rosa Parks. He said: “Rosa Parks died on Monday. She was 92 years old and almost made it to the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which she set motion by refusing to give her seat to a white man on Montgomery’s segregated city bus system. Mrs. Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955. Four days later on December 5, Black residents of Montgomery, Alabama, responded with a massive bus boycott. For the next 381 days more than 50,000 Blacks walked, car pooled, or took Black-owned taxis to work, to church, to theaters, or wherever.

“In the end, the sacrifices of Mrs. Parks and her supporters were worth the cost in arrests, bombings, harassment, firings, and sniper shots. Justice prevailed. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a case that accompanied the boycott, outlawed segregation in public transportation. The bravery and individual initiative of Rosa Parks fostered a magnificent movement. That movement brought forth the leadership of a 26-year-old minister - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The rest, as they say, is history.

“And, what a glorious history: In Montgomery’s wake came sit-ins, freedom rides, non-violent direct action, the March on Washington, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Bloody Sunday, the Selma to Montgomery March, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, court ordered desegregation of public schools across the country, the transformation of millions of disenfranchised Blacks into active voters who provided the margin of victory in presidential, congressional, state, and local elections, growing numbers of African Americans to federal, state, and municipal officeholders, including the creation of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“As we honor the life and times of Rosa Parks - and may we honor her memory forever - let us remember the single most important lesson she taught: One can make a big difference! Hers was a lifetime of making a difference. She and her husband worked on behalf of the Scottsboro Boys in the 1930s. She dared to register to vote in the 1940s. She helped to train teenage NAACP activists. She was active in the Women’s Political Council of Montgomery, a pioneering organization of Black women.

“Following the Montgomery Bus Boycott, with her characteristic modesty and firmness she associated herself for the rest of her life with the great civil rights and social justice causes of the age. She fought, in her own words, ‘for freedom for all human beings.’ As my colleague and dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, Representative John Conyers of Detroit, Michigan, for whom Mrs. Parks worked for more than twenty years as a congressional aide, has said: ‘there are very few people who can say their actions and conduct changed the face of the nation, and Rosa Parks is one of those individuals.’

Meeks said that the nation owes it to Rosa Parks; to the progress she was so pivotal in achieving, and to the rising generation of young Americans, to properly commemorate her passing and to appropriately celebrate her life. Each and every one of us owes it to her memory, to ourselves and our posterity, to emulate her example by trying in our own ways and circumstances to make a difference, to devote ourselves to peace and justice.

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