December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks helped to set the Civil Rights Movement in motion when she refused to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger. Parks’ courageous action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott; this boycott lead to a national struggle to end segregation and discrimination of public services, since the American people basically ignored Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
For those that don’t know or remember what segregation looked like, here is a quick synopsis which provides a horrifying glimpse into how we, as a nation, treated African-Americans:
While operating a bus, drivers were required to provide separate but equal accommodations for white and black passengers by assigning seats. This was accomplished with a line roughly in the middle of the bus separating white passengers in the front of the bus and African-American passengers in the back. When an African-American passenger boarded the bus, they had to get on at the front to pay their fare and then get off and re-board the bus at the back door. When the seats in the front of the bus filled up and more white passengers got on, the bus driver would move back the sign separating black and white passengers and, if necessary, ask black passengers give up their seat.
Segregation clearly did not even qualify as separate but equal, as defined by Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896.
We need to remember Rosa Parks and the myriad other civil rights heroes, for the struggle to eradicate racism is far from over. It was just last year the Tea Party in its infinite insanity produced the birther movement, demanding President Obama’s birth certificate. My hope is that for all of us that are working to eradicate racism, we take action. We insert ourselves in conversations, we strive to make our black brothers and sisters more visible by ensuring we see black people in positions of power!