Thursday, December 01, 2005

One person can make a difference... and can do even more with a team and a plan.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. No doubt the radio, tv, newspapers, and classrooms will feed us stories of a woman who was simply tired and refused to give up her seat one day. She chose to strike a blow because she was exhausted and just didn't want to move... that's really funny, because according to Northwestern University Sociology Professor Dr. Aldon Morris's paper "Lessons of the Civil Rights Movement for Workers' Rights/Union Organizing" he notes: Rosa Parks was not an ingenue who just happened to be tired: she had attended the Highlander Center and was the long-time secretary of the local NAACP chapter. Dr. Morris goes further in his 1984 book, "The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement":

in the 1940s Mrs. Parks had refused several times to comply with segregation rules on the buses. In the early 1940s Mrs. Parks was ejected from a bus for failing to comply. The very same bus driver who ejected her that time was the one who had her arrested on December 1, 1955...She began serving as secretary for the local NAACP in 1943 and still held that post when arrested in 1955...In the early 1940s Mrs. Parks organized the local NAACP Youth Council...During the 1950s the youth in this organization attempted to borrow books from a white library. They also took rides and sat in the front seats of segregated buses, then returned to the Youth Council to discuss their acts of defiance with Mrs. Parks.

Knucklehead had to remind me that Rosa Parks was kicked off TWELVE BUSES before she was finally arrested 50 years ago. I'm not saying this to minimize what she did. But teaching people this miquetoast story minimizes what she did and continues the myth of organizing not being necessary. The bus boycott was ready to go long before she got arrested. She had been doing civil disobedience of this kind for MORE THAN TEN YEARS BEFOREHAND. The pieces were in place.

Guess 13th time's the charm, huh? How could we let them get this story so blatantly wrong? And you people wonder why I want to teach social studies.


Post a Comment

<< Home