The History Lesson from Rosa Parks; A Single Act of Responsibility Changes a Nation's Heart

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 31, 2005 | Go to article overview

The History Lesson from Rosa Parks; A Single Act of Responsibility Changes a Nation's Heart


Byline: Suzanne Fields, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A good obituary can be a history lesson. Rosa Parks, who died last week at 92, for example. Martin Luther King rose to civil rights celebrity on her protest, but all most schoolchildren know about her is that she refused to give up her seat to a white man. This one act of nonviolent defiance sparked the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and ignited the civil rights revolution that changed the nation's heart - and history.

She was eloquent not with words, but with a quiet determination that avenged a thousand slights. She was the existential heroine who knew when to say no. She could have stepped out of a Pinter play, a character who sits for an instant alone at center stage, challenged by menacing men around her.

The bus driver could have been any other driver, the representative of a rigid system of cruel segregation, but only Rosa Parks could have been Rosa Parks, a weary black woman at the end of an exhausting work day who simply had got her fill of injustice. When two policemen arrived, flanking the bus driver, to tower over the diminutive lady, she continued to sit with demure dignity. What was more ordinary than to sit where you want on a bus?

She was the first person ever charged in Montgomery for violating the city's bus segregation laws, and black leaders saw their chance to test the constitutionality of the law. They couldn't do that unless she agreed. David Halberstam tells in "The Fifties" how her husband, a barber, begged her not to do it.

"Oh, the white folks will kill you, Rosa," he told her. "Don't do anything to make trouble, Rosa. Don't bring a lawsuit."

But she told Edward Nixon, a leader of the black community: "If you think we can get anywhere with it, I'll go along with it." Ed Nixon knew that as important as the court case would be, it was also important for the black community to take responsibility: "Before the whites would take the blacks seriously, the blacks had to take themselves seriously." He organized a boycott to demonstrate that they could break through a color line that had held for a century.

Rosa Parks demonstrated what could be done by taking responsibility. Shelby Steele, the writer who is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, argues that only blacks can take responsibility for themselves. His argument in the climate of the present day is as bold and as brave as the example of Rosa Parks. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The History Lesson from Rosa Parks; A Single Act of Responsibility Changes a Nation's Heart
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.