The thing about great moments in history is that by the time they become “great moments in history”, the people involved have become almost super human….able to leap tall buildings, etc.
I’m listening to a book called Quiet by Susan Cain. It’s a book about the real power that quiet, introverted people have in the world.
One of the people she talks about early in the book is the Civil Rights hero, Rosa Parks.
I knew who Rosa Parks was…I understood the history of it all…but…I didn’t know anything about her as a person.
Imagine a quiet person who gets on the wrong bus one day, a bus driven by a racist driver who she’d had a confrontation with years before. She’d promised herself that after that earlier altercation that she would never ride his bus again.
But this day she’s tired and gets on his bus again…years after she’d made that promise to herself.
Of course, he yells at her and tells her to get off the bus….in his mind it’s a bus for “good white people”, and the law backs that up…it’s not a place where a colored woman can sit at the end of a tiring day.
And this time she just quietly says, “no”.
Rosa Parks, knowing the repercussions…knowing that refusing to give in to something so basically wrong as another racist’s demands is not going to end well for her…says “no”.
She wasn’t some militant, extroverted crusader…she was just a woman of courage who was willing in her own peaceful way to stand up against something that wasn’t fair…that hadn’t been fair for a long time.
She wasn’t too tired to move…she just didn’t move this day…and gave the Civil Rights movement a rallying point that allowed it to move against the unfairness found in much of the South…and the nation…at that time.
I will never understand what that feels like. I’ve stood up against random bullying on occasion…but I will never understand what that felt like for Rosa Parks to stand up to that bus driver and the unfairness of the situation that day….to stand up to the unfairness she’d known all her life.
Rosa Parks is the woman who really got the Civil Rights movement started.
Rosa Parks,especially now that I understand more about what kind of person she was , is my new hero.
The thing about all this that I’m starting to understand as I get older is that maybe it makes it less somehow if anyone considers her actions as only a “great moment in Black History “…this was a great moment in history that was colorless. Rosa Parks was a courageous human being. Period.
Getting on that bus that day was a mistake. It was just a random mistake that a tired woman of courage and conviction made…and then her response to the situation set things into motion that changed our world for the better.
This book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking has opened my eyes to a lot of interesting people who changed things in an unassuming way.
I loved getting to know Rosa Parks a little better because of it.