December 2nd, 2008
10:43 AM ET

A single act of courage

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Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on In Session”

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Fifty-three years ago today, Rosa Parks greatly advanced the cause of civil rights with a single dignified act. She refused to stand.

The year was 1955 when the seamstress quietly explained to a Montgomery, Alabama bus driver, James Blake, that she would not give up her seat for a white passenger. It was the year my parents were married and I wasn’t born until nearly a decade later. But I always knew of Rosa Parks, the mother of the civil rights movement. Her story, and that of the Montgomery Bus Boycott that followed, was part of the context of my childhood.

Children today can only imagine that time when black people were forced to sit at the back of the bus, to drink from separate water fountains, to swim in separate pools and beaches and of course to attend separate schools. Segregationists insisted that such separation could be equal. But we all now know what the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1954. That separate can never be equal.

It was a lesson Rosa Parks, in all her wisdom, understood implicitly. She was arrested for her dignified act of defiance. But her courage is a lesson to all of us, to right a wrong when we see it, to stand for what is moral and decent, and to speak out against injustice.

Rosa Parks died in 2005. She was ninety-three years old. After the bus boycott she continued her crusade at the side of great civil rights leaders of the day. But had she never done anything else, her example proves that a single act of courage can change the world.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360° • Jami Floyd
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Maria

    She believed on her right; dignity is invaluable. Her courage action changes a nation; and open new chapter of civil rights. Thanks for the post Jami.

    December 2, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
  2. Joanne, Solvay, NY

    Thank God for Rosa Parks.

    I can only hope other people forge ahead for their civil rights.

    December 2, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  3. Stacy from NJ

    Thank you for reminding us to remember Rosa Parks. What a great lady!

    December 2, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  4. Larry

    n late 1955, a month before Rosa Parks' famous arrest, an African-American woman inAustin, TX, Howeleen Bunton-Taylor was arrested for sitting in the white-only section of a citybus.

    Why do we not remember Howeleen?

    December 2, 2008 at 2:25 pm |
  5. Mike in NYC

    Violins, please.

    Come on, BO's taken the White House. The "struggle" is over.

    You want injustice? How about decades of open borders in contravention of the clear wishes of a majority of Americans, and the massive public expenditures, crime, and general social degradation issuing therefrom?

    There, I've taken a stand against injustice.

    December 2, 2008 at 1:54 pm |
  6. Larry

    Blame the ignorant democrats in the south for those Jim Crow Laws; they were the politicians that instituted those racist laws.

    December 2, 2008 at 1:42 pm |
  7. Melissa, Los Angeles

    Amazing it took the Supreme Court to give blacks equal rights – can we imagine where blacks would be if it was left to the majority to vote like how gay marriage was left to voters in CA even though the Supreme Court allowed it?

    December 2, 2008 at 11:51 am |
  8. Annie Kate


    I had never thought of it that way before – a single dignified act of courage changing the world. But you are right – Rosa Parks changed the world for all of us in the United States; so many things were made possible for so many people with that one single act – including Obama being able to run for President and win. If there is a hall of great American heroes Rosa Parks should be in it.

    December 2, 2008 at 11:11 am |