Friday, September 01, 2017

The Fall of 2017

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Fall of 2017

Years and decades have passed since my birth. I am almost 35 years old now. Yet, the long goal of freedom and justice is always in my heart and in my spirit. Today, we live in a new era of time. Protests are abundant from those fighting against cuts to Medicaid to the defense of environment protections. Music has evolved greatly even in the span of one year. There is neo-soul and mumble rap. We see foreign policy issues from the crisis in the Middle East to European nations debating issues (pertaining to the EU, immigration, terrorism, etc.). North Korea has tested missiles all over Asia. Many crooked cops are getting away with murder literally. Also, it is important to purely recognize the heroes who are fighting for justice. Many of them are unsung in their courageous activism from helping the sick, being peacemakers, educating the youth, and defending the rights of women. During the Summer, My Brothers' Keepers had a program in Memphis to help black youth to tie a tie, to gain work experience, and to prepare them in the 21st century in enumerable ways. We honor these brave people continuously. The words of the ancients speak to us today too. We cherish mercy, love, human dignity, and justice. We desire future generations to live in a world which is better than the present and we forever oppose any injustice. This is our concrete aim. In the final analysis, we want the self-determination and liberation of all people of black African descent globally. Cherishing the melanin within you is one of the greatest acts of love in the Universe. In that sense, then the whole of the human family can be liberated. That is why I always believe in Pan-African unity as a black American.

We live in the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy where anti-racist protesters were assaulted by Neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Also, one woman was killed by a coward with a car. Many people were injured by that car. Trump was silent for a while and gave his response. His second major response was disgraceful as he said that some people wanting to maintain a racist statue in Charlottesville were "fine people." He is so wicked that anyone supporting him is a racist or a supporter of racism. A recent poll (which is a new Marist poll) said that 62% of Americans want Confederate monuments to remain. I'm not surprised at that disturbing poll, because tons of Americans unfortunately want statues of traitors and terrorists to remain. Tons of people in America love evil instead of truth, we are not shocked at that poll. Also, many Americans love truth and are believers in social justice. A Confederate statue is equivalent to a Nazi statue. The Confederacy was created to maintain white supremacy, slavery, and racial oppression (as Confederate documents clearly mentioned). Trump tweeted that many protesters in Boston are "anti-police agitators." He is the same person who praises police brutality, so Trump has no credibility in his statements. Trump ironically enough is the real agitator for racism. We know what he means by the words of "agitators." Decades ago, segregationists slandered peaceful protesters as "agitators." Trump has some nerve to tweet those words when over 20,000 courageous people in Boston are fighting against racism. Black people for a long thing have rightfully said clearly that post-racialism is a myth and there is no solution to racism unless a radical change in society occurs (which includes eradication of the systems of racism and policies of changes in the law to advance equality and human justice among other actions). This shows that we have a long way to go, but I do have hope for the future. There has been over 20,000 peaceful protesters in Boston weeks ago who protested against hate and racism. It was a success to see young and old to stand up for truth and justice.

The more that I have learned about the Civil Rights Movement, the more that I appreciate the courage and the sacrifice of the Brothers and the Sisters involved in it. I learned more about the evolution of it. The Civil Rights Movement was created by the masses of grassroots people. It included both the working class and the middle class of our community. It spread nationwide from the Montgomery Busv Boycott, the events of 1957 civil rights activism, the sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, the integration of Deep South universities, the Albany Movement, the movement in Birmingham, Alabama, the March on Washington in 1963, the St. Augustine movement, the voting rights fight in Selma, the Black Power movement, the anti-war activism, and the events in Memphis with the sanitation workers fighting for economic rights. This long history involved men, women, and children who desired a change. This movement was diverse with people wanting different types of tactics to be used. Yet, they were all unified in desiring justice for black people. Also, it is important to mention unsung heroes from Fannie Lou Hamer to Septima Clark. From my research, I am finding even more unsung heroes from the Civil Rights Movement too. We will continue to stand up and speak up for our rights and for human liberty.

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The Hurricane Harvey is a historic storm. It has harmed the lives of millions of people in the Gulf Coast region of Texas. It is the worst natural disaster in American history. It has displaced about 1 million human beings in America. Chemical and refinery plants have been burned in various fires. AccuWeather is estimating that the overall cost of the storm could rise to $190 billion, or the equivalent of one percent of the total value of all goods and services produced in the United States in an entire year. This is nearly as much as Hurricane Katrina (2005) and Hurricane Sandy (2012) combined. The Gulf Coast region is a region where strong ports and great people live at. Now, the human beings in that location are fighting for their lives and many heroic individuals have saved human lives and animals during this tragedy. This natural disaster has both shown the brutality of a hurricane and the massive compassionate spirits found among humanity. We have to deal with honesty. This Hurricane has caused the worst natural disaster in America involving a hurricane since 2005's Hurricane Katrina without question. Many people have been saved by boats and the Coast Guard. Homes are flooded even above 50 feet. Many people are struggling to get food, clothing, and adequate forms of shelter. Thousands of National Guard troops, Navy people, Air Force individuals, and Army troops are in Texas now in attempting to help those who are suffering mightily.

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By August 17, Harvey was a Tropical storm in the Miami/Caribbean region. By Wednesday on August 23, 2017, Harvey developed more because of the warm waters of the Gulf Coast. By Thursday, it transformed into a Hurricane. On August 25, 2017, the Hurricane made landfall in Port Aransas and Port O'Connor (near Corpus Christi, Texas). Catastrophic flooding continues in Victoria, Rockport, the rest of Southeast Texas, and Houston. By Monday (on August 28, 2017) and federal, state, and local government services are in the region to try to literally save human lives. There have been debates about the evacuation order (if it was sent out too late). Thousands of 911 phone calls have came into Houston (which was created from the 19th century) alone. Houston has 2.3 million people and its city is made up of 667 square miles. Houston's metropolitan area has over 6 million people. Also, scientists warned that if a powerful drainage system is not instituted, that massive flooding would commence. Not to mention that climate change can accelerate unfortunately the negative impact of such storms. The huge rains overwhelmed the bayous of Houston.

Many people were stranded, because of the flooding and some people didn't have the money to leave or evacuate. Most of the victims of this natural disaster are working class people. We all send support and solidarity with the people of Texas. The compassion shown by the people of Texas outlines a great lesson that human sacrifice is glorious and it is our duty to do altruism not selfishness. It is critically important for investments to be made to rebuild the region and to upgrade our infrastructure (part of this is the construction of floodgates in Houston and other places), so poor, middle class, and all Americans can achieve their own dreams and aspirations. Mexico has send resources to help Texas and the Dreamers have saved lives too. This documents how the proposed wall is unjust and the Dreamers deserve to remain to live in the United States of America.

This storm is totally horrific and laws certainly must be made to assist those who struggle to find insurance and to develop affordable, quality housing. It is also important to give great credit to the unsung heroes (many of which are not shown by the mainstream media) for saving families, for giving water to people, and for assisting folks into transportation in order for them to go into safe locations. Charitable organizations have done excellent work in sending legitimate supplies and comfort. Like always, we are always obligated to help our neighbor, especially during times of tragedy. Like always, we believe in charity and prayers sent to those in Texas.

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The image to the right shows Terranysha Ferguson holds her son, Christian Phillips, as she sits with the rest of her family at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017. The image to the right comes from the Associated Press (from Elizabeth Conley). 

Today is another day where many people are suffering. On August 29, 2017, Donald Trump visited Corpus Christi and other locations of Texas. Also, the storm reached landfall again in Louisiana on August 30, 2017. This tragic situation proves that trickled down economics or laissez faire capitalism doesn't work. We witness a historic emergency and the solution requires intervention from public and private resources. Many heroes are continuously giving food, water, shelter, and other supplies to the victims of Harvey. Many people have used boats, jet skis, canoes, and other types of transportation to rescue those stranded in the southeast Texas region. At least 2 reservoir dams in Texas overflowed. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator William “Brock” Long proclaimed that the disaster was impossible to foresee or prepare for. How can I put this without using certain words. Long is totally wrong. Scientists and other scholars for years and years have talked about how a massive flood risk existing in Houston and neighboring locations. An investigative report published by The Texas Tribune and Pro Publica (from December of 2016) mentioned that late last year --- the County's 18-year flood manager aggressively dismissed those warnings for years and marginalized the scientists repeatedly offering them. Robert Bea, an emeritus civil engineering professor at UC Berkeley and expert on hurricane risks on the Gulf Coast, told the Los Angeles Times that the official claim that Houston’s flood control system could protect the population from a 100-year storm was a “100-year lie.” Many city planners knew specifically that certain areas of Houston were flood prone, but some of them still eliminated natural prairies (which mitigated much of the flooding) and built structures for the sake of profit. The victims of this tragedy have also been the victims of bad building policy from the oligarchy.

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The entire Texas National Guard has been deployed into the area as well. Including National Guard troops, there are about 3,000 total troops. The Coast Guard has made an estimated 4,000 rescues. 85% of Houston residents don't have flood insurance. That is why infrastructure development is necessary and it involved modernizing and strengthening anti-flood systems like flood gates. Many of the victims are poor and working class including some rich. They include young and old. They include people of many backgrounds. Many volunteers should always be acknowledged for saving thousands of lives. At least 30 people have passed away. The George R. Brown Convention Center is housing at least 10,000 people and many of the victims are traveling into Dallas for relief. The megachurch pastor Joel Osteen opened his church to those suffering after some accused him of closing his church to victims (and after controversy and criticism from sincere people wanting help. Joel claimed that his church was inaccessible at first. You have to make up your mind on whether you believe Osteen or not. My view is that flood or not, no church should hesitate in giving refuge to victims of a storm. For Joel to say that he waited until the government to give the green light to aide victims of a Hurricane is totally wrong. I don't agree with the Prosperity Gospel either because of many reasons).  Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos reportedly turned down help from our friends in Canada is beyond troubling. According to Pathos, Quebec Minister of International Relations Christine St-Pierre called Pablos to offer blankets, beds, pillows, hygienic products and electricians, which were also given to the U.S. during Hurricane Katrina, and the Texas Secretary of State turned down help that the people of Texas actually need and instead asked only for prayers. There is nothing wrong with prayers, but people need supplies too. The Texas Secretary of State is completely wrong. About 436,000 households are asking FEMA for help. FEMA has given assistance to about 161,000 people. The White House desires to send $7.8 billion in emergency aid so far.

There are are thousands of people in the Texas region being rescued. Right on, rescue workers are doing door to door searches in Houston to see if people are alive or not (using GPS). The recovery will take years. Many communities have worked together in Texas. I send much credit to many reporters allowing families to speak their minds and send messages about missing people. Now, Beaumont has no running water and gas shortages have existed in many places of America. The water remaining has toxic chemicals in many cases causing environmental issues. Heroes, who saved lives, ought to be praised too. Millions of dollars have been raised to help humanity. Prayers and solidarity are certainly sent to the people of Houston and the southeastern Texas area.

Many charities that donations are needed include: The Black Women’s Defense League, RAICES, Inca Relief, Relief Fund, Living Hope Wheelchair Association, South Texas Human Rights Center, SHAPE Community Center, The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund,  The American Red Cross, Houston Food Bank, Food Bank of Corpus Christi, Houston Humane Society, Texas Diaper Bank , The Salvation Army, San Antonio Humane Society, GlobalGiving’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, the United Way, and so many other charitable organizations.

We congratulate heroes doing real life saving work and we are all in solidarity with Texas and other regions affected from Harvey.

We haven't forgotten about Irma too. The U.S. Virgin Islands have received huge damage. That is why U.S. Army, the Coast Guard, and U.S. Marines forces are coming into the area in order to rebuild and help people. Many Caribbean islands have been 90 percent destroyed by the Hurricane Irma. People are struggling in St. Croix, St. Thomas, Cuba, and other locations including Puerto Rico. The Florida Keys area has been hit hard and Florida has massive power outages (in the millions). These events show how important human compassion and investments are in our world. We all pray for the people in the regions of the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas. Also, we recognize those suffering in Florida, in Texas, the Caribbean, in Africa (with massive flooding killing people), and in Asia too. Irma has devastated many regions of North America. It has destroyed Caribbean Islands from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Cuba. It has spread into Florida and massively flooded the Florida Keys including Jacksonville. Also, Miami has been damaged by the historic, terrible storm of Irma. About 7 million people are without power in Florida. Thousands of people are in shelters from Tampa Bay to St. Petersburg. The Miami police enforced the reactionary Baker Act. That act allows cops to detain anyone who is posed "a danger." Many homeless people have been detained too. More than half of the homeowners in Hurricane Irma’s direct path lack flood insurance, according to a recent study by the Associated Press. The Hand in Hand telethon on September 12, 2017 raised over 14 million dollars. It raised money for Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey disaster relief. This tragedy of a storm is certainly related to climate change, which is real. This event recognizes once again about how infrastructure should be invested in America and many heroes have used charities and other methods to help the victims of such destructive hurricanes.

We haven't forgotten about Irma too. The U.S. Virgin Islands have received huge damage. That is why U.S. Army, the Coast Guard, and U.S. Marines forces are coming into the area in order to rebuild and help people. Many Caribbean islands have been 90 percent destroyed by the Hurricane. People are struggling in St. Croix, St. Thomas, Cuba, and other locations including Puerto Rico. The Florida Keys area has been hit hard and Florida has massive power outages (in the millions). These events show how important human compassion and investments are in our world. We all pray for the people in the regions of the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas.

We are in solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico. Trump made a disgusting comment again that the debt in Puerto Rico is responsible in part to the disaster of the Hurricane. It is obvious that not enough has been done to save people in Puerto Rico as people are dying literally. Puerto Rico's residents are American citizens and we know how thousands of containers have been left (at the San Juan port) which could have been used to help people in the location. The mayor of San Juan has shown great leadership on speaking truth to power about the situation. What is happening in Puerto Rico is not some good news. This is a total humanitarian crisis. The majority of the island of Puerto Rico has no massive electricity. Many roads are destroyed and people are suffering many medical ailments. Right now, people need resources, infrastructure, and other services ASAP. Also, we send kudos to real heroes who are helping others via charities, activism, and other positive actions. We have to care for our neighbors as we are our Brothers and Sisters Keepers.

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On the residents of Puerto Rico, they are American citizens, but they have no Congressional representation as in votes in Congress and they have no electoral votes in determining who is President (which is a disgraceful paradox). Trump has made a disgraceful response involving Maria's destruction by saying that Puerto Rico must pay its debt to Wall Street when the Puerto Rican people aren't responsible for the $72 billion+ debt, but Wall Street and other entities themselves are responsible. For a long time, U.S. imperialists conquered Puerto Rico after Spanish imperialists oppressed the Puerto Rican people (after the 1898 Spanish-American war). 3.5 million of the population of the Puerto Rican location are experiencing a total humanitarian disaster. A lot of the electrical grid has been destroyed as a product of the hurricane mixed with 90 degree weather during September. Many people with oxygen tanks are suffering and people are experiencing unimaginable pain. Food is lacking and about 60 percent of the population doesn't have clean drinking water.

80 percent of its agricultural crops are destroyed. For Trump to say that Florida and Texas are doing great is the height of absurdity and the anti-intellectualism that encompasses the thinking of the White House. Trump said that the Puerto Rico location is surrounded by a large ocean, so a delay in response is inevitable, which is totally ludicrous. The US-appointed Fiscal Supervisory Board (JSF) has used austerity measures for years, which has harmed the lives of the people of Puerto Rico. These disasters prove once again that the poor, working class, and anybody else deserve adequate housing, education, health care, a powerful infrastructure, living wages, and other resources in order for human beings to live a life filled with egalitarianism. Puerto Rico is certainly owed much more respect than what Trump has said. Puerto Rico certainly deserves massive federal funding in rebuilding its communities.

We haven't forgotten about Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria is one of the most vicious storms of our lifetimes. It has totally devastated Puerto Rico. Many people have been killed. Puerto Rico's entire electrical grid has been destroyed and many estimates say that it will take months before the land of Puerto Rico will receive total power. 3.4 million people live in the area. Small towns, cities, and the capital of San Juan has witnessed record total destruction as a product of the storm of Maria. Maria has traveled from Dominica, into Puerto Rico, and into the Dominican Republican (causing flooding there). In the city of Guaynabo south of San Juan, people were terrified to witness the chaos caused by the storm. Many people have problems in trying to contact their loved ones. The towns of Algarrobo, Puerto Nuevo, and Cabo Caribe experienced roofs destroyed, medical supplies damaged, and other resources. Rescuers include local Puerto Rico human beings, the Coast Guard (and other members of the U.S. Armed Forces), other volunteers, etc. Puerto Rico for a number of years has been a victim of austerity and their resources stripped by hedge funds folks and other wealthy bond traders. The storm of Maria has further exacerbated its economic crisis (which was caused by depressions, reduction of federal subsidies, the triple tax exemption, etc.). The publicly owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has been targeted for privatization for years because of austerity measures. Austerity causes reduced revenues and other economic problems. The federal agencies plan to invest about $1 billion initially, but much more money is needed to rebuild Puerto Rico. This terrible incident proves that the free market is not infallible and you need real investments to help human lives. So, we are in solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, and the rest of the Caribbean. We certainly send prayers to all the victims of the hurricanes during this season.

There is no one who embodies standing up to inequality better than Rosa Parks.Rosa Parks sacrificed her freedom for others. She did this by refusing to give up her seat to a white person, which sent her to jail.

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks is forever a historical icon. She was black woman who has inspired me in my life. She represented courage and social activism. Long before the Montgomery Bus Boycott, she was always active to help black people. One common myth (as shown by many people) is that Rosa Parks only refused to get on the back on the bus. The truth is that Rosa Parks throughout her life was a dedicated social activist who fought for the freedom of black people and the rest of the human race. Rosa Parks loved the people. Her family loved her humanity and she constantly supported her family in monumental ways. By the 1960's, she was involved in progressive politics in order for the world to change. She lived in Detroit during the latter years of her life. Her spirit was strong and her intellect was amazing. Rosa Parks stood up despite the obstacles in order for change to come. She lived a long life and she loved her family a great deal. This work will outline information about her life, so we can be reminded on the comprehensive consciousness that she possessed. She led people and Rosa Parks is a great black woman of the ages. Rosa Parks also knew Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Rosa Parks was her own woman. We, as black people, have a God given right to not only speak our rights, but to stand up and fight for our rights. We have done greatness in the past and in the present. We will continue to advance greatness in the future. We celebrate her life by learning lessons and reaching others to see their own human value.

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Early Years

Rosa Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama on February 4, 1913. Her original name was Rosa Louise McCauley. Her mother, Leona (nee Edwards) was a teacher. His father was James McCauley and he was a carpenter. She was a small child. She dealt with chronic tonsillitis. Her parents separated. So, she moved with her mother to Pine Level. That is located just outside of the state capital of Montgomery. She grew up on a farm with her maternal grandparents, mother, and younger brother Sylvester. They were all members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). The AME is an over century old independent black denomination. It was founded by free black people in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the early nineteenth century. Rosa Parks attended rural schools until she was 11. She was a student at the Industrial School for Girls in Montgomery. She took academic and vocational courses. For secondary education, she went to a laboratory schools set up by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes. She dropped out in order for her to care for her grandmother and later her mother. They were both ill. Her early life was filled with Jim Crow oppression. By the turn of the 20th century, the former Confederate states (which included Alabama) established new constitutions. These new constitutions and electoral laws disfranchised black voters including poor white voters in Alabama too. Jim Crow laws were passed by Democrats who regained control of southern legislatures. Racial segregation was abundant. It was imposed in public facilities and retail stores in the South. Public transportation was segregated too. It was so bad that bus and train companies endorsed seating policies with separate sections for black people and white people. School bus transportation was non-existent for black schoolchildren of the South. Black education was underfunded.

Rosa Parks spoke about going into the elementary school in Pine Level. School buses took white kids to their new school and black students had to walk to theirs. She said that: “…I'd see the bus pass every day... But to me, that was a way of life; we had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world…” Although Parks' autobiography recounts early memories of the kindness of white strangers, she could not ignore the racism of her society. When the Ku Klux Klan marched down the street in front of their house, Parks recalls her grandfather guarding the front door with a shotgun. The Montgomery Industrial School, founded and staffed by white northerners for black children, was burned twice by arsonists. Its faculty was ostracized by the white community. Repeatedly bullied by white children in her neighborhood, Parks often fought back physically.

She later said that "As far back as I remember, I could never think in terms of accepting physical abuse without some form of retaliation if possible." During the early 20th century, she was involved in social activism for justice. By 1932, she married Raymond Parks. Raymond was a barber from Montgomery. He was also a member of the NAACP. The NAACP back during that time period was collecting money to defend the Scottsboro Boys. They were a group of black men who were falsely accused of raping 2 white women. Rosa Parks worked in many jobs. She was a domestic worker and she was a hospital aide. She was urged by her husband to finish her high school studies in 1933.  By December 1943, Rosa Parks was active in the Civil Rights Movement.  In that year, she joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, and was elected secretary. She later said, "I was the only woman there, and they needed a secretary, and I was too timid to say no." She continued as secretary until 1957. She worked for the local NAACP leader Edgar Nixon, even though he maintained that "Women don't need to be nowhere but in the kitchen." Of course, I disagree with Edgar Nixon as women have the right to work outside of the kitchen if she wants to. When Parks asked "Well, what about me?", he replied "I need a secretary and you are a good one." In 1944, in her capacity as secretary, she investigated the gang-rape of Recy Taylor, a black woman from Abbeville, Alabama.

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Parks and other civil rights activists organized the "Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor", launching what the Chicago Defender called "the strongest campaign for equal justice to be seen in a decade." Rosa Parks wasn’t a Communist Party member, but she attended meetings with her husband. The Communist Party brought up the Scottsboro case in fighting racism. During the 1940’s, Rosa Parks and her husband joined the Voters’ League. She worked briefly in 1944 at the Maxwell Air Force Base. It was found in Montgomery, Alabama, but it didn’t have racial segregation since it was on federal property.  She rode on its integrated trolley. Speaking to her biographer, Parks noted, "You might just say Maxwell opened my eyes up." Parks worked as a housekeeper and seamstress for Clifford and Virginia Durr, a white couple. Politically liberal, the Durrs became her friends. They encouraged—and eventually helped sponsor—Parks in the summer of 1955 to attend the Highlander Folk School, an education center for activism in workers' rights and racial equality in Monteagle, Tennessee.  The veteran civil rights organizer Septima Clark mentored Parks at the Highlander Folk School. In 1945, despite the Jim Crow laws and discrimination by registrars, she succeeded in registering to vote on her third try. In August of 1955, a black teenager named Emmett Till was brutally murdered by white racist criminals. This came after he was near a young white woman while visiting relatives in Mississippi. Recently, the young white woman admitted that she lied about Emmett Till.

By November 27, 1955 (which was four days before she would make her stand on the bus), Rosa Parks attended a mass meeting at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery. The meeting addressed the case and the recent murders of the activists George W. Lee and Lamar Smith.  The featured speaker was T. R. M. Howard, a black civil rights leader from Mississippi who headed the Regional Council of Negro Leadership. Howard brought news of the recent acquittal of the two men who had murdered Till. Parks was deeply saddened and angry at the news, particularly because Till's case had garnered much more attention than any of the cases she and the Montgomery NAACP had worked on—and yet, the two men still walked free. This was the early life of the hero Rosa Parks.

~ Rosa Parks -- (Graphic: Credo Mobile)

The Montgomery Bus Boycott

Rosa Parks had a large involvement in the Montgomery bus boycott movement. Before the boycott, oppression against black bus drivers was overt and abundant. In 1900, Montgomery had passed a city ordinance to segregate bus passengers by race. Conductors were empowered to assign seats to achieve that goal. The law back then wanted no passenger would be required to move up or give up their seat and stand if the bus was crowded and no other seats were available. Over time and by custom, however, Montgomery bus drivers adopted the practice of requiring black riders to move when there were no white only seats left. The first four rows of seats on each Montgomery bus were reserved for whites. Buses had “colored” sections for black people generally in the rear of the bus. Although, black people were more than 75% of the ridership. The sections were not fixed but were determined by the placement of a movable sign. Black people would sit in the middle rows until the white section was filled. If more whites needed seats, black people were to move to seats in the rear, stand, or, if there was no room leave the bus. Black people could not sit across the aisle in the same row as white people. The driver could move the "colored" section sign, or remove it altogether. If white people were already sitting in the front, black people had to board at the front to pay the fare, then disembark and reenter through the rear door. This was an unfair system. Black Americans opposed this injustice. Rosa Parks have said that, “My resisting being mistreated on the bus did not begin with that particular arrest. I did a lot of walking in Montgomery.” By 1943 on one day, Rosa Parks boarded a bus and paid the fare. She then moved to her seat but driver James F. Blake told her to follow city rules and enter the bus again from the back door. When Parks exited the vehicle, Blake drove off without her. Parks waited for the next bus, determined never to ride with Blake again.

After working all day, Rosa Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue Bus. This was a General Motors Old Look bus. It belonged to the Montgomery City Lines. At around 6 pm., Thursday, December 1, 1955, in downtown Montgomery, she paid her fare and sat in an empty seat in the first row of the back seats. These seats were reserved for black Americans and they were in the “colored” section. Near the middle of the bus, her row was directly behind the ten seats reserved for white passengers. Initially, she didn’t notice that the bus driver was the same man was James F. Blake. Blake was the one who had left her in the rain in 1943.  As the bus traveled along its regular route, all of the white only seats in the bus filled up. The bus reached the third stop in front of the Empire Theater. Several white passengers boarded. Blake noticed that two or three white passengers were standing, as the front of the bus had filled to capacity. He moved the “colored” section sign behind Parks and demanded that four black people give up their seats in the middle section, so that the white passengers could sit.

Years later, in recalling the events of the day, Parks said, "When that white driver stepped back toward us, when he waved his hand and ordered us up and out of our seats, I felt a determination to cover my body like a quilt on a winter night." By Parks' account, Blake said, "Y'all better make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats."  Three of them complied. Parks said, "The driver wanted us to stand up, the four of us. We didn't move at the beginning, but he says, 'Let me have these seats.' And the other three people moved, but I didn't."  The black man sitting next to her gave up his seat. Rosa Parks moved, but toward the window seat, she didn’t get up to move to the redesignated colored section.

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Parks later said about being asked to move to the rear of the bus that, “I thought of Emmett Till and I just couldn't go back." Blake said, "Why don't you stand up?" Parks responded, "I don't think I should have to stand up." Blake called the police to arrest Parks. When recalling the incident for Eyes on the Prize, a 1987 public television series on the Civil Rights Movement, Parks said, "When he saw me still sitting, he asked if I was going to stand up, and I said, 'No, I'm not.' And he said, 'Well, if you don't stand up, I'm going to have to call the police and have you arrested.' I said, 'You may do that.'" During a 1956 radio interview with Sydney Rogers in West Oakland several months after her arrest, Parks said she had decided, "I would have to know for once and for all what rights I had as a human being and a citizen." In her autobiography, My Story she said: “…People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in…” When Parks refused to give up her seat, a police officer arrested her. As the officer took her away, she recalled that she asked, "Why do you push us around?" She remembered him saying, "I don't know, but the law's the law, and you're under arrest." She later said, "I only knew that, as I was being arrested, that it was the very last time that I would ever ride in humiliation of this kind..."  Parks was charged with a violation of Chapter 6, Section 11 segregation law of the Montgomery City code, although technically she had not taken a white-only seat; she had been in a colored section. Edgar Nixon, president of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and leader of the Pullman Porters Union, and her friend Clifford Durr bailed Parks out of jail that evening.

Afterwards, the boycott happened. Nixon talked with Jo Ann Robinson. Jo Ann Robinson was an Alabama State College professor. She was also a member of the Women’s Political Council (WPC). They talked about the Parks case. Robinson believed that it was important to seize the opportunity and stayed up all night mimeographing over 35,000 handbills announcing a bus boycott. The Women’s Political Council was the first group to officially endorse the boycott. On Sunday, December 4, 1955, plans for the Montgomery Bus Boycott were announced at black churches in the area. There was a front page article in the Montgomery Advertiser. That newspaper helped to spread the word. At a church rally that night, those attending agreed unanimously to continue the boycott until they were treated with the level of courtesy that they expected, until black drivers were hired and until the seating in the middle of the bus was handled on a first come basis. The next day, Rosa Parks was tried on charges of disorderly conduct and violating a local ordinance. The trial lasted 30 minutes. After being found guilty and fined $10, plus $4 in court costs, Parks appealed her conviction and formally challenged the legality of racial segregation. In a 1992 interview with National Public Radio's Lynn Neary, Parks recalled: “…I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time... there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn't hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became…”

On the day of Parks' trial — December 5, 1955 — the WPC distributed the 35,000 leaflets. The handbill read, “We are ... asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial ... You can afford to stay out of school for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don't ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off the buses Monday.” It rained that day. The black community preserved in the boycott. Some rode in carpools, while others traveled in black operated cabs that charged the same fare as the bus, 10 cents. Most of the remainder of the 40,000 black commuters walked. Some walked as far as 20 miles (30 km). That evening after the success of the one day boycott, a group of 16 to 18 people gathered at the Mt. Zion AME Zion Church to discuss boycott strategies. At the time, Parks was introduced, but not asked to speak. She received a standing ovation and calls from the crowd for her to speak. When she asked if she should say something, the reply was “Why, you’ve said enough.” Also, many black people refused to go in the back of the bus before Rosa Parks too like Claudette Clovin (who was pregnant during the time) on March 2, 1955. She was a dedicated civil rights activist. Elizabeth Jennings Graham fought segregation in NYC streetcars in the 19th century. She worked as a civil rights leaders to end segregation in New York City transit systems. Ellen Anderson fought discrimination during the 1800's too.

The group, involved in Montgomery, agreed that a new organization was needed to lead the boycott effort if it were to continue. Rev. Ralph Abernathy suggested the name of Montgomery Improvement Association or the MIA. The name was adopted and the MIA was created. Its members elected as their president Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was a newcomer to Montgomery, who was young and a mostly unknown minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. That Monday night, 50 leaders of the African-American community gathered to discuss actions to respond to Parks' arrest. Edgar Nixon, the president of the NAACP, said, "My God, look what segregation has put in my hands!" Parks was considered the ideal plaintiff for a test case against city and state segregation laws, as she was seen as a responsible, mature woman with a good reputation. She was securely married and employed, was regarded as possessing a quiet and dignified demeanor, and was politically savvy. King said that Parks was regarded as "one of the finest citizens of Montgomery—not one of the finest Negro citizens, but one of the finest citizens of Montgomery." Rosa Parks’ court base was being slowed down in the appeals through the Alabama courts on their way to a federal appeal. The process could have taken years. They held to a boycott for a long time.

In the end, black residents of Montgomery continued the boycott for 381 days. Dozens of public buses stood idle for months. It severely damaged the bus transit company’s finances until the city repealed its law requiring segregation on public buses following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that it was unconstitutional. Rosa Parks was not included as a plaintiff in the Browder decision because the attorney Fred Gray concluded the courts would perceive that they were attempting to circumvent her prosecution on her changes working their way through the Alabama state court system. Rosa Parks played a big role in raising the international awareness of the plight of African Americans and the civil rights struggle in general. Dr. King wrote in his 1958 book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” that Parks’ arrest was the catalyst rather than the cause of the protest:  "The cause lay deep in the record of similar injustices." He wrote, "Actually, no one can understand the action of Mrs. Parks unless he realizes that eventually the cup of endurance runs over, and the human personality cries out, 'I can take it no longer.'" Rosa Parks was a hero for the ages.

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In Detroit

After her arrest in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement. Yet, she experienced many obstacles. Economic sanctions came against activists. She lost her job at the department store, because of her civil rights activism. Her husband quit his job after his boss forbade him to talk to about his wife or the legal case. Rosa Parks traveled the country to speak on many issues extensively. By 1957, Raymond and Rosa Parks left Montgomery. They came into Hampton, Virginia. They came into Virginia, because she couldn’t find a job. She also disagreed with Dr. King and other leaders of Montgomery’s civil rights leaders about how to proceed. She received constant death threats. In Hampton, she worked as a hostess in an inn at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), which is a historically black college. Later, Rosa and Raymond Parks including her mother moved north into Detroit. They were inspired do so by Sylvester and Daisley McCauley (her brother and sister-in-law). Many leaders in Detroit wanted to promote a progressive reputation to the city. Yet, Rosa Parks encountered many signs of discrimination against African Americans. In Detroit back then, schools were heavily segregated. Many services in black neighborhoods were substandard. By 1964, Rosa Parks told an interviewer that, “I don't feel a great deal of difference here... Housing segregation is just as bad, and it seems more noticeable in the larger cities." She regularly participated in the movement for open and fair housing. Rosa Parks assisted the first campaign for Congress by John Conyers. She persuaded Dr. Martin Luther King (who was very reluctant to endorse local candidates) to appear before Conyers. Therefore, this boosted the novice candidate’s profile. Conyers was elected. He hired her as a secretary and receptionist for his Congressional office in Detroit. Rosa Parks held this position until she retired in 1988.

In a telephone interview with CNN on October 24, 2005, Conyers recalled, "You treated her with deference because she was so quiet, so serene — just a very special person ... There was only one Rosa Parks." Rosa Parks did much of the daily constituent work for Conyers. She focused on socio-economic issues like welfare, education, job discrimination, and affordable housing. Rosa Parks visited schools, hospitals, senior citizen facilities, and other community meetings. She kept Conyers grounded in community concerns and activism. Rosa Parks continued to be involved in civil rights activism during the mid-1960’s. She traveled to support the Selma to Montgomery Marches, the Freedom Now Party, and the Lowndes County Freedom Organization. She befriended Malcolm X, who she regarded as a personal hero. Rosa Parks was concerned about housing issues like other Detroit black human beings. She lived in Virginia Park, which has been damaged by highway construction and urban renewal.

By 1962, policies caused the destruction of 10,000 structures in Detroit. 43,096 people were displaced. 70 percent of them were African Americans. Rosa Parks lived about a mile from the epicenter of the 1967 Detroit rebellion. She considered housing discrimination a major reason on why the rebellion took place in the first place. After the rebellion, Rosa Parks worked with members of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers and the Republic of New Afrika. She wanted to expose the police brutality in Detroit. She served on a “people’s tribunal” on August 30, 1967. This investigated the killing of three young men by the police during the 1967 rebellion. This was the Algiers Motel incident. She created the Virginia Park district council to help rebuild the area. The council helped to build the only black owned shopping center in the country. Rosa Parks worked in the Black Power Movement. She attended the Philadelphia Black Power conference, and the Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana. She also supported and visited the Black Panther school in Oakland.

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The 1970's and the 1980's

During the 1970’s, she worked in the prison rights movement. She wanted cases of self-defense to be worked out. She helped found the Detroit chapter of the Joann Little Defense Committee. Rosa Parks supported the Wilmington 10, the RNA-11, and Gary Tyler. Following national outcry around her case, Little succeeded in her defense that she used deadly force to resist sexual assault and was acquitted. Gary Tyler was finally released in April 2016 after 41 years in prison. During the 1970’s, it was a sad time for her in many ways. Her family experienced illnesses. She and her husband had stomach ulcers for years. They were both hospitalized. She had fame and constant speaking engagements. Yet, she wasn’t a wealthy woman. She donated most of the money from speaking to civil rights causes. She lived on her staff salary and her husband’s pension. Medical bills and time missed from work caused financial strain. That is why she received aid from church groups and admirers. Her husband died of throat cancer on August 19, 1977. Her brother and only sibling died of cancer that November. Her personal ordeals caused her to work with her family more. She learned from a newspaper of the death of Fannie Lou Hamer, once a close friend. Parks suffered two broken bones in a fall on an icy sidewalk, an injury which caused considerable and recurring pain. She decided to move with her mother into an apartment for senior citizens. There she nursed her mother Leona through the final stages of cancer and geriatric dementia until she died in 1979 at the age of 92.

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Later Years

In 1992, Rosa Parks published “Rosa Parks: My Story.” This book was an autobiography that was geared to younger readers. It shows her life leading to her decision to keep her seat on the bus. Years later in 1995, she published Quiet Strength. This book was her memoir, which focused on her faith. At the age of 81, she was robbed and assaulted in her home in central Detroit on August 30, 1994. The assailant, Joseph Skipper, broke down the door but claimed he had chased away an intruder. He requested a reward and when Parks paid him, he demanded more. Parks refused and he attacked her. Hurt and badly shaken, Parks called a friend, who called the police. A neighborhood manhunt led to Skipper's capture and reported beating. Parks was treated at Detroit Receiving Hospital for facial injuries and swelling on the right side of her face. Parks said about the attack on her by the African-American man, "Many gains have been made ... But as you can see, at this time we still have a long way to go." Skipper was sentenced to 8 to 15 years and was transferred to prison in another state for his own safety. She had anxiety. So, she moved into Riverfront Towers. This was a secure high rise apartment building. Learning of Parks' move, Little Caesars owner Mike Ilitch offered to pay for her housing expenses for as long as necessary.

In 1994, the Ku Klux Klan applied to sponsor a portion of United States Interstate 55 in St. Louis County and Jefferson County, Missouri, near St. Louis, for cleanup (which allowed them to have signs stating that this section of highway was maintained by the organization). Since the state could not refuse the KKK's sponsorship, the Missouri legislature voted to name the highway section the "Rosa Parks Highway." When asked how she felt about this honor, she is reported to have commented, "It is always nice to be thought of." In 1999, Parks filmed a cameo appearance for the television series Touched by an Angel.  It was her last appearance on film. Health problems made her increasingly an invalid. In 2002, Rosa Parks received an eviction notice from her $1800 per month apartment due to nonpayment of rent. She had age related physical and mental decline, so she had difficulty paying for her financial affairs. Her rent was paid from a collection taken by Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit. When her rent became delinquent and her impending eviction was highly publicized in 2004, executives of the ownership company announced they had forgiven the back rent and would allow Parks, by then 91 and in extremely poor health, to live rent free in the building for the remainder of her life.  Elaine Steele, who manages the nonprofit Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute, told the newspaper that Parks gets proper care and eviction notices were sent in error in 2002. Her heirs and various interest organizations alleged at the time that her financial affairs had been mismanaged. During the later years of Rosa Parks’ life, she continued to live her life.

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Her Passing and Funeral

Rosa Parks passed away in Detroit as a result of natural cases on October 24, 2005. She was 92 years old. She was in her apartment on the east side of the city. She outlived her only sibling. She was survived by her sister-in-law (Raymond's sister), 13 nieces and nephews and their families, and several cousins, most of them residents of Michigan or Alabama. City officials in Montgomery and Detroit said on October 27, 2005 that the front seats of their city buses would be reserved with black ribbons. They wanted to show honor of Rosa Parks. Her coffin was flown to Montgomery and taken in a horse drawn hearse to the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. It stayed in repose at the altar on October 29, 2005. It was dressed in the uniform of a church deaconess. There was a memorial service held there the following morning. One of the speakers in the memorial was United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She said that if it had not been for Rosa Parks, she would probably have never became the Secretary of State. She is right. It is important to note why Condoleezza Rice said those words. Condoleezza Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama in November 14, 1954. Her family and herself were victims of racism and discrimination. Condoleezza Rice played the piano as a youth. She was eight when her schoolmate Denise McNair (aged 11) was killed by racists in a mostly black Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963. She was right to say that the terrorists who bombed the church failed to bury her aspirations. Her parents taught her show excellence despite the existence of racism and her parents were right. I have ideological disagreements with Rice on some issues, but it is true that Condoleezza Rice has made many excellent contributions in society by her own merit and effort.

In the evening the casket of Rosa Parks was transported to Washington, D.C. and transported by a bus similar to the one in which she made her protest, to lie in honor in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. Since the founding in 1852, the practice of lying in state in the rotunda, Rosa Parks was the 31st person to lay in state (she was the first American who had not been a U.S. government official and the second private person after French planner Pierre L’Enfant to be honored in this fashion. She was the first woman and second black person to lie in state in the Capitol. There was a memorial service that was held on that afternoon at Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C. The speakers in the Washington, D.C. service included Oprah Winfrey, actress Cicely Tyson, NAACP chair Julian Bond, civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height, Parks’ childhood friend Johnnie Carr, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and then NAACP President Bruce Gordon. Her body and casket returned to Detroit for 2 days. It lay in repose at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American history. Her funeral service was 7 hours long. It was held on November 2, 2005 at the Greater Grace Temple Church in Detroit. The service in Detroit had a diversity of speakers like Al Sharpton, then Senator Barack Obama, Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, Louis Farrakhan, and others. After the service, an honor guard from the Michigan National Guard laid the U.S. flag over the casket and carried it to a horse drawn hearse. This was intended to carry it in daylight to the cemetery. As the hearse passed the thousands of people who were viewing the procession, many clapped, cheered loudly and released white balloons. Parks was interred between her husband and mother at Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery in the chapel's mausoleum. The chapel was renamed the Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel in her honor. Parks had previously prepared and placed a headstone on the selected location with the inscription "Rosa L. Parks, wife, 1913–." Rosa Parks personified courage, determination, and a gentle, strong spirit.

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"I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free... so other people would be also free."

-Rosa Parks


Throughout her life, Sister Rosa Parks inspires us all. Rosa Parks lived for almost a century on this Earth. She has seen so much from the existence of World War II, the end of Jim Crow, and to the beginning of the 21st century. She had a spirit of love and strength. She stood up against injustice involving segregated buses in the Deep South and housing discrimination in the North including the Midwest. She spoke her mind consistently. Also, Rosa Parks loved her family and cared for her relatives a great deal. She was a key person in the black freedom struggle who always had a strong political consciousness. She honored Malcolm X. She joined Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on many endeavors. Rosa Parks spoke up in favor of the Poor People's Campaign. Not to mention that she was an early opponent of the Vietnam War from the early 1960's. She was part of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and she was a supporter of the Winter Soldier hearings in Detroit (which exposed the brutality found in the Vietnam War that harmed the lives of so many Americans and Vietnamese human beings) and the Jeannette Rankin Brigade protest in D.C. Rosa Parks was more than a woman who refused to sit in the back of the bus. She worked in collective groups in order for us to witness freedom in so many areas of our lives. She supported the human rights of political prisoners. Also, it is important to note that she had a militant, revolutionary ethos as she believed in self-defense. During the Montgomery Bus Boycott, her family had a gun at the house. His husband, Raymond, was politically active too. By the early 1980's, she was a public opponent of apartheid. She protested a South African embassy in America and opposed U.S. policies in Central America during the 1980's. After 9/11, she endorsed peace. Rosa Parks was always a revolutionary, heroic black woman. Her life should always motivate our lives too in the cause of human equality and social justice.

Rest in Power Sister Rosa Parks.

By Timothy

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