Monday, January 18, 2010

Not too long ago, we picked up a book at the book fair for Summer about Rosa Parks and the Birmingham bus boycott. I love that it was written for children, and how it describes what began as just another ordinary day for her and her family. It talks about how she was getting ready for a busy Christmas season at the shop where she worked as a seamstress. She got off early to check on her Mom, who was getting over the flu. As the bus approached, she was thinking about making her husband a special dinner of meatloaf that night. Just another ordinary day...

Being from Detroit, I was familiar with our city's most honored citizen and her courageous stand that day. But I never knew that she--and every other person who was black--had to first enter the front of the bus, pay their fare--and then exit the front door and make the humiliating walk to the rear door of the bus. Learned, too that there was a "neutral" section of the bus between the front and the back, which is where she sat and remained until she was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white person.

Today, as we celebrate Martin Luther King day, I think about the power of grace that she possessed. What's that proverb about how gentleness can break a bone? Her quiet but firm dignity broke the bones of a terrible system and started the Civil Rights Movement. I'm amazed at how she brought about change. Refusing to accept the status quo, but taking her stand so calmly, she singlehandedly exposed the foolishness of a "separate but equal" for what it was.

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