Sunday, December 12, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Reading Rosa Parks and Pearl Harbor with others - AnnArbor.com

Posted: Dec 12, 2010 at 6:12 AM [Dec 12, 2010]

When I was in elementary school, I was taught that at the end of a long day in 1955, an old and tired seamstress with aching feet sat down on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and was just too tired to get up and give up her seat to a Caucasian passenger. I always imagined thick white orthopedic shoes, and I felt the heaviness of her exhaustion weighing her down in her seat, and I thought that it was an accident or coincidence that she started the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the civil rights movement in America.

That story lived undisturbed in my mind until almost 30 years later, when I heard Reverend Jesse Jackson proclaim at her funeral in Detroit that she was not tired that day at all, she was a freedom fighter. I was surprised to then see photographs of how young she was at the time, only 42, and how elegantly she was dressed. I discovered that she was not the first person to be arrested for refusing to give up her seat, but she was chosen to be the test case because she was the one with the character and social status and personality deemed necessary to stand up to the challenge. It took moving to Michigan, where she later made her home, for me to learn how very political and intentional her action was that day.

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