One of the great Civil Rights leaders of our time, Rosa Parks
, was born 100 years ago today. The story of Parks’s refusal to move to the back of the bus has become a modern-day legend, a story every schoolchild knows by heart.
In the years since that 1955 act of defiance, Rosa Parks touched the lives
of countless citizens and fellow supporters of Civil Rights. Some of us were inspired from afar, while others proudly met Parks and worked alongside her in the struggle for equal rights. For many, it was an experience so unforgettable that it even made its way into their obituaries. Today, we honor Rosa Parks by meeting some of the people whose lives she forever changed.
Rosa Parks smiles during a ceremony where she received the Congressional Medal of Freedom in Detroit, Mich., Nov. 28, 1999. Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man sparked the modern civil rights movement, died of natural causes in her Detroit home Monday, Oct. 24, 2005, she was 92. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Alice Zelma Harris’s obituary calls her a legendary drum majorette for civil rights and social justice and notes that her parents raised her to defy racism and to know and live like a citizen of the United States. She was inspired to action by the arrest of Rosa Parks: Zelma was one of thousands on the evening of December 5, 1955 who gathered at the Holt Street Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called for the protest for the arrest of Mrs. Rosa Parks. Zelma with her 3 young children, participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycott which lasted for 381 days.
Vera Johnson was just as proud to be involved with the Montgomery Bus Boycott. A Montgomery native, she held various positions in the Montgomery Improvement Association, fighting to bring about changes with the Bus Boycott and Civil Rights Movement. She marched with Martin Luther King many miles in her efforts to gain equality for all. Vera was instrumental with the Bus Boycott, in Montgomery Alabama, working closely with Rosa Parks. Having met Rosa Parks at Montgomery Fair, Rosa was a seamstress there and Vera operated the elevator, she was familiar with both sides of the boycott movement.
Sherick Jovan devoted much of his life to the fight for equality: As an advocate for civil rights and equality, he began speaking out against injustice, racism and segregation during the late 60's within his community. During the 70's he actively began writing and expressing himself about life experiences through his poetry and as a storyteller; he taught and spoke out on issues of civil/human rights and justice for all. His chance to meet Rosa Parks came with another honor, as well: In July 2004, he was awarded a Certificate of Achievement where his name was placed on the "Wall of Tolerance" in Montgomery, Alabama, presented by Ms. Rosa Parks, Co-founder, National Campaign for Tolerance, The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). This notable tribute was in appreciation for his community service while in Atlanta, Georgia.
Walter Pratt also got to meet Rosa Parks at an award ceremony – but this fan was presenting Parks with the award instead of the other way around. While at [the University of California at] Berkeley one of Walters most precious memories was when he was able to present Rosa Parks with an award from the university's African American Dept.
Irene Gray Osborne’s obituary proudly proclaims her part of the energy that changed our world! Devoted to the cause of desegregation, Osborne worked hard toward the Brown vs. Board of Ed. Decision in 1954. She spent a lot of her career talking to groups across the country such as interracial councils dedicated to desegregation. Irene published several articles supporting school integration from 1953-1959. Her work allowed her to meet many people, including influential leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks.
Carolyn McCormack had two notable brushes with fame – as a child, Hank Williams Sr. was her babysitter. But more to the point, she was proud of her connection to Rosa Parks: [in 1955, she] rode the same bus with Rosa Parks, in which her picture was taken by a U.P. photographer and is now a part of history.
Len Turpin’s Rosa Parks story was a small one, but no less exciting for the disabled veteran, who did much of his interacting with the world via computer. The most memorable conversation he had on the computer was with the famous Rosa Parks.
Written by Linnea Crowther