Magazine article Ebony

Taking the Torch

Magazine article Ebony

Taking the Torch

Article excerpt

COURAGEOUS, daring and defiant. Rosa Parks was all of that and more. Since her death, the country has learned more about the seamstress from Montgomery, Ala., who was small in statue, but big in heart. In all of the ceremonies and memorials, the one thing that became clear was her concern, not for her well-being or personal comfort, but for the condition of Black Americans.

She protested, marched, put herself in precarious situations in an effort to make America live up to its creed, its promise that all people are created equal. She did it before December 1, 1955, the day she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a White man, and she did it for decades after, including taking a lead role in the Million Man March some 10 years ago.

Indeed, Parks and King and Abernathy and Malcolm and others took the torch on behalf of what was right and fair and decent. But since then, and particularly in recent years, have we continued to carry the torch? Or have we dropped it, become too complacent, too afraid to challenge the status quo?

Are you an activist or a pacifist? Well can you think of a single issue right now that you feel so strongly about that you are willing to go to jail for, or possibly die for? I would venture to say that many of us couldn't think of one. And if we could, there's a good chance that we are too worried about what our neighbors would think or what the guys at work would think to actually speak up about it in an act of civil disobedience. And still others of us wouldn't want to miss the big party on Saturday or the big game Sunday sitting in some jail cell.

What good is that going to do, right? Nobody would appreciate it anyway, right? Live and let live, right? Nobody's making you sit in the back of the bus, telling you that you can't vote, right?

Well it's right, only if you have been lulled into that way of thinking. …

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