(by Susan Jones, Oct. 25, 2005, CNSNews.com) – Accolades were pouring in Tuesday for Rosa Parks, dubbed the mother of the civil right movement, who died Monday, at home and surrounded by friends, at age 92.
“Rosa Parks served as an inspiration to generations of African Americans and all people of good will,” said Bruce Gordon, president and CEO, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“More than an icon, Mrs. Parks is symbolic of the thousands of courageous NAACP workers who fight for civil rights in their communities.”
Parks, as a 42-year-old seamstress in Montgomery, Ala., refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man, as the law required her to do. Her refusal, she later said, stemmed not from sore feet, but from her belief that “I had a right to be treated as any other passenger.”
Parks’ act of defiance on December 1, 1955, sparked the Montgomery bus boycott that brought the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to prominence, the NAACP said.
Julian Bond, chairman of NAACP Board of Directors, noted that Rosa Parks was the NAACP Secretary in Montgomery “when she sat down in order to stand up for civil rights, and her quiet example demonstrated to millions new ways to confront the evil of segregation.”
Parks was one of the first women to join the Montgomery NAACP branch in 1943, where she also served as a youth adviser.
In that capacity, the NAACP said, Parks helped young people organize protests at the city’s main library because the libraries reserved for blacks had fewer books.
In the 1930s, Parks worked with her husband, Raymond Parks, a NAACP activist, for the defense of the Scottsboro Boys, nine young African-American men pulled off a train, falsely accused and found guilty of raping two white women in 1931.
In 1957, Parks and her husband moved to Detroit where she worked as an aide in the home office of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) from 1965 1988.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson hailed his friend Rosa Parks as a “noble princess from God.”
In a press release issued by Jackson in South Africa, he said although sadness attends Parks’ passing, “We rejoice in her legacy, which will never die.”
Said Jackson, “History knocked on her door, and with quiet courage she answered with non-negotiable dignity. She offered her body as a living sacrifice. She embodied the hopes, healing and the longing of three centuries of prayers and the desire for freedom. Her light in darkness illuminated the path for the majestic leadership of Dr. King. Together, they changed the course of American and world history.”
Jackson called it ironic that at the moment of Parks’ death, he is in South Africa as the guest of former President Nelson Mandela, preparing for discussions on poverty, peace and freedom.
“These three giants, Rosa Parks, Dr. King and Mandela — without bombs, bullets or wealth — have shown the awesome power of right over might in history’s long journey toward peace and freedom,” Jackson said.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) called Parks and American hero who created a lasting legacy as the “first lady of civil rights and the mother of the freedom movement.”
“I fondly remember presenting her with the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor in June of 1999 in the United States Capitol Rotunda. At the age of 86, she stood to accept the medal and sometimes steadied herself on my arm.
“Rosa Parks said that her legacy of quiet strength was passing to the youth of this nation. She stood up for what was right, by refusing to physically stand up for what was wrong. Her courageous decision mobilized people around the country and launched the modern civil rights movement.”
Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews.com. Visit the website at www.cnsnews.com.
1. What ‘title’ was given to Rosa Parks as a result of her actions on a bus in 1955?
2. What did you learn about Rosa Parks from the article that you didn’t already know? For more information on Rosa Parks, go to the website of the organization she founded, the Institute for Self Development. What most inspires you about the life of Rosa Parks?
3. Why was Mrs. Parks arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama? What was the result of this action?
4. What organization did Mrs. Parks work for as a youth adviser?
5. How did each of the following people describe Mrs. Parks: Bruce Gordon, Julian Bond, Jesse Jackson, Dennis Hastert.
6. Write the adjective that you think best describes Mrs. Parks and explain your choice.
7. Ask a grandparent to tell you what they remember about the Montgomery bus boycott, Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement.
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