Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Thank You, Miss Parks. I Kiss Your Feet

Wiki says: On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, age 42, refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Her action was not the first of its kind. Irene Morgan in 1946, and Sarah Louise Keys in 1955, had won rulings before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Interstate Commerce Commission, respectively, in the area of interstate bus travel. Nine months before Parks refused to give up her seat, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to move from her seat on the same bus system. In New York City, in 1854, Lizzie Jennings engaged in similar activity, leading to the desegregation of the horsecars and horse-drawn omnibuses of that city. But unlike these previous individual actions of civil disobedience, Parks' action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Parks' act of defiance became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including boycott leader Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to launch him to national prominence in the civil rights movement.

At the time of her action, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for workers' rights and racial equality. Nonetheless, she took her action as a private citizen "tired of giving in". Although widely honored in later years for her action, she suffered for it, losing her job as a seamstress in a local department store.

I massage your seamstress hands with thyme-infused beeswax. I send reiki to the tired muscles of your calves. I ground and send courage to your frightened center. I whisper the thanks of many daughters into your ringing ears. I bring you hot soup (full of astragolus, garlic, mushrooms, and chicken broth), in jail. I bring you clean hair in the court-room, fresh underwear when you face the police, and the warmth of magic when you try to go to sleep, afraid of what they will do to you. I bring you the scent of lavender and rosemary from my garden and the warmth of all the wool that passes through my knitting hands.

I was not born when you refused to give up your seat on the bus. But I will bless you always. Thank you for making my world a bit more just. Thank you for the example that you set. May we, who come behind you, imbibe a bit of your courage.

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