Off Topic Messages

Rosa Parks has died

Tue Oct 25, 2005 6:12 pm

Rosa Parks, whose courageous refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man kicked off the civil rights movement, has passed away from natural causes. She was 92. RIP Rosa Parks.

Tue Oct 25, 2005 6:44 pm

Thanks for the news Pete.

This was a brave woman,the likes off we will not forget.


Rest In Peace.

Tue Oct 25, 2005 6:48 pm

That was only 1955 !! and actually she was arrested because there was a law about it. :oops: Really brave woman. RIP

Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:05 pm

Granted, Rosa Parks was brave...but she was not the first black woman to do such a thing. Her real story is more complicated than that...something resembling a "publicity stunt" that sparked a civil rights movement that changed the the U.S. She was not an innovator, but she was an incredible symbol. May she rest in peace.



Rosa Parks was not the first woman in Montgomery to refuse to get out of her seat so a white man could be comfortable.

"Rosa was aware...that in the last twelve months alone three African-American females had been arrested for the same offense. One incident made the newspapers in March; it even happened on the same bus line. Of four black passengers asked to surrender their seats in no-man's land, two refused--an elderly woman and fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin. 'I done paid my dime,' Colvin had said. 'I ain't got no reason to move.' The elderly woman got off the bus before police arrived. Colvin refused to move, so police dragged her, fighting and crying, to the squad car, where she was rudely handcuffed..."
"Colvin was charged with violating the city segregation law, disorderly conduct, and assault. With the NAACP defending her, she was convicted but fined only for assault, the most absurd of the three trumped-up charges. It was a shrewd ruling; it sent a tough message to blacks while avoiding an NAACP appeal of a clearly unconstitutional law. Afterward, E.D. Nixon, former Pullman porter and [now] president of the local NAACP chapter, met with the indignant young Colvin to determine if she might make a strong plaintiff in a test case. But she had recently become pregnant, which spelled trouble; Nixon knew that Montgomery's church-going blacks would not rally behind an immature, unwed, teenaged mother who was also prone to using profanity."
--From Black Profiles in Courage by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Alan Steinberg, pp.233-234.

In this more complicated version of the story, Rosa Parks is no mere seamstress tuckered out from pressing pants. She has also been for many years a volunteer for the local chapter of the NAACP. She is, in fact, E.D. Nixon's secretary. She knows all about Claudette Colvin and the other women who have been arrested for refusing to give up their seats. She knows when she gets on that bus that E.D. Nixon is looking for a test case, a case he can take all the way to the Supreme Court. What Rosa doesn't know--not until bus driver James Blake, a man Rosa has despised ever since he threw her off the bus in a similar incident ten years earlier, yells, "All right, you niggers, I want those seats"--is that she is not going to be a secretary in the case, but the defendant.

If the real Rosa is more politically aware than the mythical one, and if her action happens in context with a pre-existing situation rather than coming like a bolt out of the blue, does that make Rosa less of a hero? Of course not. If we help students understand the realities of the world in which Rosa lived, they can then see how real the dangers were that she faced. The real Rosa remembered how the murderers of Emmet Till were set free by an all-white jury just two months earlier, and how an NAACP activist in Mississippi was murdered just two weeks before she refused to give up her seat. The real Rosa knew her husband may have been right when she told him what she had done and he responded, "The white folks will kill you." The real Rosa was not surprised when she got fired from her job, and her husband too was fired from his job, all because she said no.

But the most important difference between the myth and the reality of the Rosa Parks story lies in what happened after Rosa said no--the bus boycott. In the myth, it seems to happen as if by magic: Rosa gets off the bus, and all black America gets off the bus with her. The fact that her courage instantly inspires everyone seems at once a miracle and also the most natural thing in the world.

It didn't necessarily work that way. Vernon Johns, the fiery black activist pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, who was succeeded in his ministry by Martin Luther King, Jr., once tried to start a bus boycott:


"Johns, then in his sixties and frail, boarded a Montgomery bus and accidentally dropped the dime fare near the driver's feet. 'Uncle,' the driver threatened, get down and pick up that dime and put it in the box.' Johns snapped back, 'I've surrendered the dime. If you want it, all you have to do is bend down and pick it up.' The driver was surprised. He ordered Johns to pick up the dime or get thrown off the bus. Johns calmly turned to the busful of black passengers and suggested they all get off the bus with him, in protest. But no one moved; they were too afraid. Later, when telling [Ralph] Abernathy this story, Johns concluded disgustedly, 'Even God can't free people who act like that.'"
--From Black Profiles in Courage by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Alan Steinberg, p.238.

If Vernon Johns, pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and one of the best known and most respected black men in Montgomery, could not inspire a bus boycott, how could a mere seamstress? The answer is organization. What Johns did was spur-of-the-moment. What Rosa Parks did was something black activists had carefully planned. They didn't know who would come along to be the spark they needed, or when it would occur, but they knew what they would do when it did occur.

Rosa Parks was arrested on a Thursday evening. Immediately, E.D. Nixon-- her friend, coworker, and fellow activist at the NAACP--was notified, and so was Fred Gray, the young African-American lawyer who would handle the case. Gray was the same lawyer who had previously agreed to handle Claudette Colvin's case if Nixon had chosen to carry that case forward. Nixon and Gray agreed that in Rosa Parks they had a solid citizen around whom the community could rally, and her long activism in the NAACP convinced them that she knew the importance of her case and possessed the courage and commitment the situation would require.

Late that night, Gray phoned his friend Jo Ann Robinson, president of the 300-member Women's Political Council. Robinson started phoning other activists and they agreed that Rosa Parks was just the right sort of person--outwardly ordinary and mild-mannered, inwardly steadfast--around whom a bus boycott could be organized to protest the law. After making her phone calls, Robinson stayed up till dawn with a mimeograph machine, creating 52,500 fliers that would be distributed over the weekend to churches, schools, bars, stores, and private homes.

The next morning, E.D. Nixon phoned Martin Luther King and other black ministers in Montgomery. He warned them that he wanted to take a segregation case to the Supreme Court, and asked them to organize the support of Montgomery's black church congregations. King, a young man new to Montgomery and to his congregation, was reluctant to make waves so early in his tenure, but Nixon and the other pastors convinced him that, as an outsider, he had the advantage of not having made any local enemies yet. King agreed to head the effort. He and the other ministers immediately began to use their congregations to mobilize public support for Rosa Parks. She would not be ignored. She would not be alone. Anything that happened to her would happen in the spotlight of public attention. Every black person in Montgomery would know her story.

On Monday morning, when Rosa Parks walked into the courthouse, 500 supporters stood outside to cheer her. Monday evening, when Drs. King and Abernathy arrived at the special boycott meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church, they found 4000 people jammed into the church and crowded onto the lawns and surrounding alleys and streets. And, thanks to the fliers, all day that Monday the buses ran empty of blacks.

That was only the beginning. Organizers held two mass rallies every week to raise spirits and money, and arranged 350 carpools to provide 20,000 rides per day. What Rosa Parks did was a spontaneous act of courage, but the only reason her individual act made a difference was because activists organized countless other acts of support. That, according to Herbert Kohl, is the real story of Rosa Parks.

Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:36 pm

Eagle -

Interesting read !

Amazing to think all this went on in my lifetime !

We never had segregation [as such] over here.

But there was some anti-negro feeling in the fifties, with black people having to do the most menial jobs on poor pay.

Things have improved today, but some bad feelings linger in the inner cities.

Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:43 pm

ColinB wrote:But there was some anti-negro feeling in the fifties, with black people having to do the most menial jobs on poor pay.

Wasn't that why the UK government encouraged immigration from the Commonwealth because they couldn't fill the lowly paid jobs, eg transport?

Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:58 pm

Delboy wrote:
ColinB wrote:But there was some anti-negro feeling in the fifties, with black people having to do the most menial jobs on poor pay.

Wasn't that why the UK government encouraged immigration from the Commonwealth because they couldn't fill the lowly paid jobs, eg transport?


Well, yes !

A certain Enoch Powell was the minister responsible.

It was official government discrimination.

But discrimination, nonetheless.

Tue Oct 25, 2005 11:27 pm

ColinB wrote:But there was some anti-negro feeling in the fifties, with black people having to do the most menial jobs on poor pay.

Things have improved today, but some bad feelings linger in the inner cities.

Yet 50 years later the likes of Reebok can sub-contract their work out to sweat shops in the Far East for the sake of profit and it's accepted! Seems we've come full circle!:?

Wed Oct 26, 2005 8:42 am

Rest in peace, Rosa.

The woman definitely had guts. I can almost hear her now.

I'll be damned! I've had a hard day and I'm staying right here. You stand your white ass up! ..........Honky!

Wed Oct 26, 2005 9:43 am

Timing is a huge part in history Eagle. It doesn't mean what Parks and others did was any less courageous but if your stand and talents aren't featured in the right moment your actions will have less impact. Ten years earlier Parks probably wouldn't have ignited the boycott. In 1955 things were in place for enough black people to say they had enough. And you're right the public support (not just from leaders like Dr. King) can't be ignored but all those people who walked to work or carpooled or bummed rides were also heroes in their own way.

It is so especially sad though for me when someone like Parks who has lived the history passes. It is just so sad to lose that living link. The connection is so much greater and the events seem that much more real when we can meet the people who lived it.

Wed Oct 26, 2005 11:39 am

ColinB wrote:
Delboy wrote:
ColinB wrote:But there was some anti-negro feeling in the fifties, with black people having to do the most menial jobs on poor pay.

Wasn't that why the UK government encouraged immigration from the Commonwealth because they couldn't fill the lowly paid jobs, eg transport?


Well, yes !

A certain Enoch Powell was the minister responsible.

It was official government discrimination.

But discrimination, nonetheless.



And what about Margareth Thatcher...? I saw she was celebrated just the other day...


Sincerely MB280E

Mon Oct 31, 2005 7:44 pm

Interesting stuff, Eagle. I've read about it before.

Much of what we consider "history" is shorthand for a longer story.

Ms. Parks is getting a great send-off with thousands paying final
respects Sunday and Monday in Washington, D.C. after earlier
ceremonies in Alabama. Next up will be Detroit.

I'm struck by her long life, which allows us to reflect on that era
and the 20th century. Too many of her fellow historical "actors"
were martyred (Till, King, etc.) or just with time passed on.

America would do well to remember a lot of the good (as well
as the bad) of the 1950s. That whole era is slipping away in
terms of those who lived it.

Mon Oct 31, 2005 9:22 pm

MB280E wrote:
ColinB wrote:
Delboy wrote:
ColinB wrote:But there was some anti-negro feeling in the fifties, with black people having to do the most menial jobs on poor pay.

Wasn't that why the UK government encouraged immigration from the Commonwealth because they couldn't fill the lowly paid jobs, eg transport?


Well, yes !

A certain Enoch Powell was the minister responsible.

It was official government discrimination.

But discrimination, nonetheless.



And what about Margareth Thatcher...? I saw she was celebrated just the other day...


Sincerely MB280E


Thatcher wasn't overtly racist.

She just hated anyone & everyone who was less successful than she was.

That naturally included the immigrant population and their descendants.

And the vast bulk of the rest of us, too.

"There is no such thing as society, just individual men & women"

What a bitch.

Mon Oct 31, 2005 10:08 pm

Actually, Colin, her quote was, "There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women, and there are families."

I happen to like Margaret Thatcher. She had a good sense of humor about herself and was a firm leader who rarely took crap.

"If you lead a country like Britain, a strong country, a country which has taken a lead in world affairs in good times and in bad, a country that is always reliable, then you have to have a touch of iron about you."

Sat Nov 05, 2005 1:40 pm

I'm with Eagle.....I have a great deal of respect for the "Iron Lady".

Colin just doesn't like anyone who has more than he does. That is discriminatory as well........it's just socially acceptable. Fortunately, I hear he's a rich bugger :wink:

Sun Nov 06, 2005 3:09 pm

Eagle/Scatter -

To really appreciate how awful the UK Thatcher years were you really had to live through them.

With her 'rewards to the strongest, the most powerful, and the devil take the hindmost' philosophy, it was almost like living in the US.

Sun Nov 06, 2005 7:17 pm

ColinB wrote:Eagle/Scatter -

To really appreciate how awful the UK Thatcher years were you really had to live through them.

With her 'rewards to the strongest, the most powerful, and the devil take the hindmost' philosophy, it was almost like living in the US.


Baloney! Since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs the U.S. has pumped billions into poverty.

Some of us don't believe the role of government is to provide a cradle to grave teet for it's citizens to suckle at.

I'm all for a 'safety net' for those who, due to circumstances beyond their control, can't compete or keep up with the pack. But the idea that government should be the all-purpose end all/be all for everything is ludicrous. The proper role of government is to ensure equal opportunity for all it's citizens - not equal outcome (or income). The responsibility for the outcome lies with the individual's own initiative in taking advantage of the available opportunities.

Mon Nov 07, 2005 1:35 am

Horse manure. What do you think these programs do or intend to do? They are safety nets. The reason they don't all work as well as they should is because the system is so stacked in favor of the wealthy and in particular corporations. The problem exposed by Katrina was not welfare but the lack of decent paying jobs for the working poor. The government should work to help ensure a decent minimum standard of living for its weakest citizens that's not the same outcome.

As for those that say that government interference mucks things up, consider the fact since the overhaul of the government during the Great Depression there has never been anything close to that same level of calamity ever since. The GI Bill, unemployment insurance, social security, medicare, food stamps, minimum wage laws, the securities and exchange commission, student loans- all government "hand outs"- have all helped keep things from reaching certain depths and kept the country afloat for the past 60 odd years.

Mon Nov 07, 2005 4:20 am

likethebike wrote:Horse manure. What do you think these programs do or intend to do? They are safety nets. [

Yes, I agree LTB. And as I've already stated I'm for safety nets. But they shouldn't be a way of life, but rather a way to a better life. Granted there will always be those who need these safety nets to survive. So exactly what is it that you think is 'horse manure'? I think we're in basic agreement here.

Likethebike wrote:
The reason they don't all work as well as they should is because the system is so stacked in favor of the wealthy and in particular corporations. The problem exposed by Katrina was not welfare but the lack of decent paying jobs for the working poor.


I don't necessarily disagree with the first part of your statement Bike, but I would also suggest that another reason the programs don't work as well as they should is that the money doesn't go where it should. A lot of the money goes to the bloated beauracracies that are created to administer the programs. I've worked for both City and County government, and have had dealings with State government so I know what I'm talking about. Sad to say, but it seems to get worse at each level of government, so I'm not at all confident that gets better at the Federal level. There's a lot of waste at all levels!

Another problem that I think was exposed by Katrina is the incompetence that permeates all levels of government. All the government officials dropped the ball - local, State, and Federal. Sad.

Likethebike wrote:The government should work to help ensure a decent minimum standard of living for its weakest citizens that's not the same outcome.


Agreed.

Likethebike wrote:As for those that say that government interference mucks things up, consider the fact since the overhaul of the government during the Great Depression there has never been anything close to that same level of calamity ever since. The GI Bill, unemployment insurance, social security, medicare, food stamps, minimum wage laws, the securities and exchange commission, student loans- all government "hand outs"- have all helped keep things from reaching certain depths and kept the country afloat for the past 60 odd years.


Some of these are safety nets. Some of these are hand ups, not hand outs.

LTB I think you mis-read my post. I was responding to Colin's dig that here in the U.S. we don't care about or provide for those less fortunate, which is erroneous.

But I also tried to make the point that people should not expect or rely on the government to solve all problems or cure all social ills. Certainly government should play a role, and should do what it can. But government simply can't fix everything. Ultimately it comes down to people.

Mon Nov 07, 2005 8:12 am

Perhaps I did misinterpret your comment. I was responding to an unpsoken implication in the cradle to the grave comment that people who benefit from social programs are somehow taking advantage of the system. If that was not your intent, I apologize.

My point is that the welfare system is only a very small part of the social program spectrum. Not everyone is kicking back and sitting home collecting benefits while the rest of the world slaves away. If a mother of say four is collecting food stamps while working 40 hours per week, I don't know what else we can want from her. I think if you do your best you should be entitled to a certain standard of living a roof over your head, something to eat and health care and some relaxation.

I also wanted to make the point though that the market does not care of everything and that government does play a role in making the system. There is a widely held belief that there should be a minimum of intervention. To me it's no coincidence, that the standard of living increased for the entire country so dramatically in the 20th century largely because of governmental reforms.

As far as bureaucracy, I agree to an extent with your point but it is something that's hard to avoid.
Last edited by likethebike on Mon Nov 07, 2005 10:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mon Nov 07, 2005 9:37 am

Pete -

You wrote:
Baloney! Since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs the U.S. has pumped billions into poverty.


And billions to the most wealthy in tax hand-outs.

Mon Nov 07, 2005 11:37 am

ColinB wrote:
MB280E wrote:
ColinB wrote:
Delboy wrote:
ColinB wrote:But there was some anti-negro feeling in the fifties, with black people having to do the most menial jobs on poor pay.

Wasn't that why the UK government encouraged immigration from the Commonwealth because they couldn't fill the lowly paid jobs, eg transport?


Well, yes !

A certain Enoch Powell was the minister responsible.

It was official government discrimination.

But discrimination, nonetheless.



And what about Margareth Thatcher...? I saw she was celebrated just the other day...


Sincerely MB280E


Thatcher wasn't overtly racist.

She just hated anyone & everyone who was less successful than she was.

That naturally included the immigrant population and their descendants.

And the vast bulk of the rest of us, too.

"There is no such thing as society, just individual men & women"

What a bitch.


Colin,
Why can you do it here, and not on the pretty patterns? BTW, I think Rosa said pretty much what Rob said she said!! That's what I've always taught my 3rd graders (leaving out Rob's last sentence).
sue

Mon Nov 07, 2005 11:42 am

Sue -

You wrote:
Colin,
Why can you do it here, and not on the pretty patterns?


Well, that's precisely my query !

Mon Nov 07, 2005 11:51 am

Gosh, Colin,
You're going to keep me up all night and my kids will have a sleep walking teacher again!! Which, of course, they won't notice, because they're used to it!! Go to the other section. Is it chat talk? I can't think much more!!

sue

Mon Nov 07, 2005 12:13 pm

sue -

Get to bed !