Honoring the Memory of Rosa Parks through Urban Education

Author: David Montague | MTR President

Rosa Parks seated toward the front of the bus, Montgomery, Alabama, 1956. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

Rosa Parks seated toward the front of the bus, Montgomery, Alabama, 1956. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

Today is the 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ arrest in Montgomery, AL.  

I thought her actions that displayed a deep sense of character resulting in eventual justice are worth remembering this day.  She may still serve us well today as we are encouraged to persevere in trouble against those things that are wrong and destructive to basic human dignity.

Please read this powerful excerpt from MLK’s Stride Toward Freedom detailing her arrest and explaining her courage.

On this day, December 1st, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus in downtown Montgomery, AL.  She was returning home after her regular day’s work in the Montgomery Fair – a leading department store. Tired from long hours on her feet, Mrs. Parks sat down in the first seat behind the section reserved for whites. Not long after she took her seat, the bus operator ordered her… to move back in order to accommodate boarding white passengers.  By this time every seat in the bus was taken.  This meant that if Mrs. Parks followed the driver’s command she would have to stand while a white male passenger, who just boarded the bus, would sit.  

But Mrs. Parks quietly refused.  The result was her arrest.  

Mrs. Parks’ refusal to move back was her intrepid affirmation that she had had enough.  It was an individual expression of a timeless longing for human dignity and freedom.  she was not “planted” there by the NAACP…; she was planted there by her personal sense of dignity and self-respect.  She was anchored to that seat by the accumulated indignities of days gone by and the boundless aspirations of generations yet unborn. 

In a similar way, each of you are displaying this same intentional courage and conviction for the display of justice and dignity, despite the very hardness your intentionality brings upon you.

That is no small thing.

Your choices to do this work are noble, good and right.  You should be proud of your work and of yourselves.  I am.  And I’m sure Mrs. Parks would be, as well.

You are celebrating her memory in the very best way… by teaching those who were the “generations yet unborn.”