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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

October 25, 2005
Farewell, Ms. Parks

The best Rosa Parks tribute I've read so far today.

I've always wondered...who was the white man who wanted her seat? He passed in and out of history without an identity. Just a faceless symbol of white oppression. I often wonder if he ever stopped, at any point during the rest of his life, and considered the consequences of his arrogance that day. Did he ever come to understand why that bus seat wasn't his?

Posted by AnneZook at 12:32 PM


You don't get it, do you? That was a morality play staged by the ACLU - for a good cause but, let's not be completeley naive. The white man was playing his assigned part.

Posted by: kate at October 25, 2005 08:54 PM

The ACLU? Better conspiracy theorists, please.

Posted by: Mr Ripley at October 25, 2005 08:58 PM

Seriously. I like a good conspiracy theory as well as the next person. More than a lot of people. But the ACLU? Staged that?


Posted by: Anne at October 25, 2005 09:26 PM

Well, color me embarrassed. Lookit this:

She became a hero and a legend not due to serendipity--or a case of tired feet on one particular day--but because she and other activists had devised (after much conversation and argument) a sophisticated plan of action.

From David Corn.

Posted by: Anne at October 25, 2005 09:44 PM

Why yes, they had been talking about how to get the job done for a long time, and they had their support network in place, and they were organized -- and then the right moment came.'

I don't know why people prefer the version where there's this naive old seamstress who just can't take it any more and the whole community just rises up out of nothing. Maybe because it's irreproducible. A "miracle."

Posted by: Lucy Kemnitzer at October 25, 2005 11:19 PM

Not the ACLU. At the time she was secretary of her local chapter of the NAACP. It still took Courage, Strength and Character to do what she did, and she did it with Dignity. She is a true role model for social action and involvement.

Posted by: Purple Rose at October 26, 2005 05:25 AM

Thanks, Purple Rose, for the correction and the sentiment.

Lucy, there's a vast pool of American sentimentality around the idea of a single individual standing up against powerful forces. I've been pondering this since yesterday and have some thoughts...but they're not in order yet.

Posted by: Anne at October 26, 2005 08:36 AM

"....there's a vast pool of American sentimentality around the idea of a single individual standing up against powerful forces..."

And that's what Rosa Parks did. To my mind, the idea of her being the NAACP secretary, coming to realize that not only did a specific line have to be drawn, on a particular day, to challenge an outrageous but accepted custom - but that she, one person named Rosa Parks, was going to have to do it. Afterwards, she'd have support - she was certainly not a naive old seamstress - but damn, right before, she must have wondered if she'd even live to tell the tale. And she went out and sat at the front of the bus anyway.

I'm nothing special. I should be one of the great masses who prefers the fake miraculosity. But I think of Rosa Parks the night before, what she must have felt. And she did it anyway. That's just breath-taking.

Posted by: larkspur at October 26, 2005 09:57 AM

I agree, Larkspur. As moving as the "media" version of Rosa Parks is, the reality is far more impressive.

This was a woman with the knowledge and the intelligence to know she might be buying herself a lot of pain and trouble. And she had the courage to step forward anyhow.

Posted by: Anne at October 26, 2005 10:38 AM

Planned or not, who was the white guy?

Posted by: Nate at October 28, 2005 03:58 PM