Steve's Soapbox

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rest in Peace Rosa Parks ............

Nation mourns mother of civil rights movement
By Jannell McGrew
Montgomery Advertiser

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Close friend, activist has special perspective

Rosa Parks, a woman whose single act of defiance spurred a movement and earned her iconic fame as the mother of the civil rights movement, died Monday at her home in Detroit.
She was 92.
Parks died of natural causes, Karen Morgan, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., told the Associated Press on Monday. Arrangements were still in the works late Monday.
For the past several years, Parks had been in frail health and court records from a lawsuit indicated she suffered from dementia.
Officials with Parks' Detroit-based Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development are expected to release more details today. Parks, along with close friend Elaine Eason Steele, founded the institute in 1987 as a memorial to her husband, Raymond.
As news of Parks' passing spread around the world, local historians and activists mourned Parks' death.
"She's gone, but she has left her footprints on the sands of time," said local civil rights activist Johnnie Carr, a close friend of Parks, after hearing the news of her death.
The two attended the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls, a private school founded by white, liberal-minded Northern women. They grew up and joined a movement together.
It was on Dec. 1, 1955, that Parks took her stand by sitting down on a segregated Montgomery bus and refusing to get up and yield her seat to a white passenger. Parks was arrested and fined. Buoyed by the news and fueled by a desire to end segregated busing, more than 40,000 blacks boycotted the buses just four days after her arrest.
For 381 days, they walked. They carpooled. They refused to let Jim Crow have the last say. Parks had said no for herself and for all of them. Her answer to segregation sparked a movement.
Dignitaries the state and nation from across the nation praised Parks for her courageous stand.
"Rosa Parks will always be remembered as a courageous woman who quietly confronted injustice, and in so doing, she changed a nation," said Gov. Bob Riley in a statement Monday night.
The Rev. Robert Graetz, the only white member of the board of the Montgomery Improvement Association during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, said Monday: "I'm saddened to learn about her passing. I'll quote my youngest son, who said that 'after all these years, she deserves to have some rest'."
Graetz, whose home was bombed during the bus boycott, said, "It was her quiet, gentle, strong spirit that set the tone for the entire movement."

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