December 1, 1955 was a pivotal day for Rosa Louise. She did not set out to become an icon, a heroine, a household name. She simply could no longer stand to be treated like less than she was. When Mr. Blake demanded that Rosa give up her seat to a White man, she refused to do it. She was not the first Black person to refuse, but she became, with that non-violent act, the image of activism.
I wonder how the early activists in the struggle for Civil Rights were so capable of what seems to me to be remarkable bravery. I have never considered myself very brave, and it is a trait I admire immensely. I know that Courage has been defined as “grace under pressure”. It seems that the accumulated pressure of years of slavery, abuse, humiliation, and degradation resulted in the kind of courage Rosa displayed on that day 60 years ago. She very gracefully told the bus driver to do what he had to do. The ensuing arrest, trial, and problems it created were just part of what she felt she had to endure; she was tired of being treated unjustly.
Rosa Louise MacCauley Parks stood up for what she believed needed to change by not standing up and giving up her seat on a bus. She was a committed and hard-working activist for Civil Rights all her life. Despite death threats and financial woes, she shone her light brightly wherever she was. The kind of integrity that brought her to the forefront of the desegregation movement is a model for all of us. I hope whenever I need to speak up for what I deem an injustice, I will hear her whisper in my ear.