Tag Archives: Rosa Parks

Women’s History Month 2015: Women on 20s

20 Mar

Rosa20What a great movement to initiate during National Women’s History Month — getting women’s faces on our currency. How sad that while women make up more than half the population, we only see white men’s faces on our currency.

How might we look at this more equitably? How can we work together to put a woman’s face on the twenty dollar bill? Who should it be? I know Alice Paul is getting a lot of traction, as is the amazing Shirley Chisholm. I must confess, I am rather partial to seeing Rosa Parks on the twenty dollar bill, although I do love Eleanor Roosevelt.


A Call To Action: Click here to cast your vote! A Women’s Place is on the money!


Women’s History Month 2013: Initial Reflections

1 Mar
Celebrating Women's History Month

Celebrating Women’s History Month

March is National Women’s History Month. As we kick things off, two events in our nation’s capital this week provide a powerful framework for the women we will celebrate and the importance of this endeavor.

As Black History Month came to a close, a statue of Rosa Parks was added to Statuary Hall in the Capitol. She is one of only a handful of women to be honored in this way — and truly deserving. It is worth noting for Women’s History that she was not the timid woman pushed too far who shows up in the history books. Instead she was a powerful advocate for social justice who participated in many activities before her famous bus protest. Somehow the old white straight men who write the textbooks like her better the other way…

In other news, yesterday Congress finally passed the Violence Against Women Act. Originally passed in 1994, it has been reauthorized twice; in 2005 it was approved unanimously in the Senate, got 415 yes votes in the House, and was signed by George W. Bush. Somehow the 112th Congress — the nastiest, least effective in recent memory — couldn’t be bothered and let the Act lapse, even though the Senate passed a strong renewal bill. The sticking point was the inclusion of Native American and same-sex couples in the renewal. Freedom and justice for all, anyone? Fortunately, the Senate passed the Act anew in this Congress and it made it through the house despite a last-minute attempt at a straight-white-ladies-only amendment.

The historical treatment of Parks’ legacy and the continuing legislative War On Women demonstrate clearly how much we need Women’s History Month. Like Black History Month, I wish we did not have to celebrate a specific month for Women’s History.  Until all groups have equity and fair representation, however, taking time to celebrate the pioneers and allies is critical.

I am including this absolutely lovely and brilliant video by President Jimmy Carter as he reflects on the negative impact of religion and women’s rights.  Thank you to my dear friend Brad Fairchild and social justice activist for pointing me to the video. I’m not sure that President Carter could rise in my esteem–what a treasure.

I hope you will enjoy our journey through the lives and actions of some amazing women this month. To whet your appetite, I leave you with one of my favorite School House Rock videos!

Celebrating Rosa Parks, December 1

1 Dec

Celebrating Rosa Parks

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!

Celebrating Black History Month: February 19

19 Feb

A National Treasure

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Nat King Cole. The irony with Cole is that he never intended to become a singer–he trained as a jazz pianist. It was quite by accident that he became a singer and in fact, even today is one of the best known jazz singers in the world. Because Cole never like the sound of his own voice, he took up smoking in hopes it would add a richness to his voice.  Nat King Cole was the first African American to host a television talk show. On November 5, 1956, The Nat King Cole Show debuted on NBC TV.  His show debuted almost a year after Rosa Parks was arrested and the Montgomery Bus Boycott was in full swing, thus causing a great deal of controversy over Cole’s show. Kudos to Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Frankie Laine, Peggy Lee, and Earth Kitt for doing spots on Cole’s show for free to support their friend and to support the vision of seeing African Americans on television. King’s show lasted for only a year and could never secure a national advertiser.  Cole faced the HATE of racism throughout his life, with the Ku Klux Klan burning crosses on his front lawn in Los Angeles, to being assaulted on stage during a performance in Birmingham, Alabama.  While on stage he was attacked by a group of people calling themselves Education of Little Tree, written by Asa “Forrest” Carter, a former KKK member. Despite so much hate and racism, Cole held his head high and carried on with class. Nat King Cole is certainly Unforgettable. In fact, The Very Thought of You, fills me with hope. I thank you for your many gifts Nat King Cole.


Celebrating Black History Month: February 16

16 Feb

Civil Rights Hero, Ella Baker

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Ella Baker. Baker was one of the most influential players in the civil rights movement. Baker’s grandparents were slaves and she would hear stories from her grandmother about slave revolts. After finishing college and graduating valedictorian, she moved to New York and started her life’s path of social justice. Baker fought for civil rights alongside others such as, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, and Dr. Martin Luther King. She was also a mentor to our Rosa Parks. Baker’s influence touched the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Baker and another hero of my mine, Howard Zinn, were two of the SNCC’s highly revered adult advisors. Baker remained an activist until her death in 1986.  To learn more about one of my heroes, Ella Baker, click here. Of course, you knew I had to throw in some Sweet Honey in the Rock–their tribute  to our Ella.

Women’s History, February 4

4 Feb

Rosa Parks: American Hero

Happy Birthday, Rosa Parks.  Parks, The First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement, was arrested for not obeying bus driver, James Blake, when he ordered her to give up her seat for a white man.  She was 42 years old at that time–nice that we can become activists in our 40s.  This act of civil disobedience happened on December 1, 1955 and sparked the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott. At the time of her arrest, Parks was the secretary of her chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The bus boycott helped to end racial segregation in the south–the power of boycotting.  I only wish I could say it ended racism today in the United States, but we all know that is painfully not true.

Happy Birthday, Betty Friedan. Friedan, a leading figure in the “Second Wave” women’s movement, is best known for her groundbreaking book, The Feminine Mystique. While The Feminine Mystique was groundbreaking and helped the women’s movement, it did not address equality for non-white women, nor did it include lesbians.  Friedan later addresses these disparities in her book, The Fountain of Age and in a new introduction she included in subsequent publications of The Feminine Mystique. Friedan passed away on her birthday in 2006. Her voice is missed now especially when women’s rights are being attacked currently by our government.

Quotes of the day:

I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people. –Rosa Parks

The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own. There is no other way. –Betty Friedan

Enjoy this bit as well: Click Here.



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