Today is Rosa Parks birthday. Often dubbed the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement, she would’ve turned 100 today. We owe much to Rosa Parks, and it’s important that we honor her legacy. In agreement with Rachel Griffin’s article on the Ms. Magazine Blog, we need to praise Rosa Parks for doing more than refusing to give up her seat on a bus. In continued praise, I’d like to share the following poem from my book Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics:
In Honor Of Our Mother
For Rosa Parks
Mother of a Movement:
Those are just some of the terms often used to describe Rosa Parks.
As Nikki Giovanni described her, she was a woman “who did an extraordinary thing.”
She exemplified strength, dignity, humility, and great character.
She was a leader who devoted her life to fight against injustice.
And on December 1, 1955—
After living in a time of segregation,
After living in a time of inequality,
After living in a time when we were considered less than human—
Rosa said enough is enough.
She was tired of being treated as “less than”
Because she knew were so much more.
It was time for the tables to turn,
And to reclaim our freedom.
In that moment, when she refused to give up her seat to a white man,
When she refused to go to the back of the bus,
Her life, the brothers and sisters of the Movement, and our lives changed forever.
Her act of defiance caused us to rally together to fight for our civil rights,
So that we could free ourselves and this nation.
Rosa’s actions should serve as an inspiration
To stand up against any act of hatred, intolerance, prejudice, or discrimination.
So when you feel any form of injustice taking place, be it racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia and
When you feel that your or someone else’s rights are being trampled over,
If one person’s or a group of people’s rights are being neglected, disregarded, or deemed null and
We are all affected.
Don’t be afraid to go out on that limb
And do what’s right.
Don’t be afraid to be like Rosa
And do the extraordinary thing.
Because change will only happen when we allow it to—
When we’re ready to accept it into our lives—
When we’re ready to take on the position and follow through with our actions.
Only then will we see the outcome;
And we all will feel it.
It speaks volumes when a nation mourns the loss of an individual.
And when our nation mourned the passing of Rosa Parks, it was a defining moment,
For she become the first woman to lie in the Rotunda of the US Capital.
Because many of the rights we take for granted were fought for by people
Like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Bayard Rustin, Thurgood Marshall, Medgar Evers,
Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer, Dorothy Height, Paul Robeson and Mary McLeod Bethune.
It begs to question, when our foremothers and forefathers see us carrying on the way we do each day,
are they proud?
Do they feel that we are honoring their legacies?
Do they think we’ve turned our backs on the fight, our rights, our people, and personally, ourselves?
All the more reason why we should continue to honor, celebrate and commemorate Rosa Parks,
Because we’ve come a long way,
And we still have a mighty long road to follow.
And if Rosa had not refused to give up her seat,
Our fight along this road would’ve been a great deal longer.
History would be quite different, and so would we.
So bask in the glory of Rosa Parks and that moment.
Be grateful for the work and the many achievements of
Rosa and the other brothers and sisters of the Movement.
And please don’t forget your ties,
And your obligation to honor, and when called upon,
To strengthen the legacy.
May the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks, rest in peace!
© 2012 BuddahDesmond
Happy Black History Month!
Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics is available at iUniverse, Amazon (Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle), Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million (Paperback | Hardcover), and other retailers.
101 Days Project: Prevail