by Marlena Chertock
It is Wed. Dec. 1, the 55 anniversary of Rosa Parks‘ historic decision. She was tired of people the same as her telling her she was inferior, telling her she had to use lower-quality water fountains and trains, she was tired of the injustice and discrimination.
Parks was heading home on the bus after a long work day. She wanted to sit for the ride home, but a white man told her she needed to get up so he could take her seat. She refused. And thus, she set off the spark of refusing to give into the injustice. Bus boycotts, sit-ins, marches — all of these nonviolent methods of struggle grew in occurrence and and size.
Parks was arrested and charged with violating a Montgomery, Ala. ordinance requiring African Americans to give up their bus seats to white passengers. She was fined and taken to court.
Countless people made civil rights their life struggle during the 60s and on. Their effort and passion caused change. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination in public places. The Brown v. Board of Education court case banned “separate but equal” in classrooms and other places.
Discrimination and segregation is banned in the law and some people believe racism has effectively been abolished. But if you scratch the surface, traces of racism can be found. People still believe in the inferiority of others, and the superiority of themselves. They think people different than them are inherently inferior, should be cast off into lower classes of society and should not be given the same rights as them.
This type of thinking, this type of harbored hatred creates the energy, momentum and desire to create the types of laws that Parks, King, the Greensboro four, the countless others working for civil rights and the many other civil rights movements fight to abolish. As a society, we need to watch out for this and push against the discrimination, the injustice that may and is already occurring. Each influx of immigrants into America faces the familiar discrimination encountered by the last group.
We need to decide if that is the legacy we as Americans want to pass on. We need to decide if that is legacy that we as human beings want to pass on.
So, what decisions do you think our generation has made/will make that we’ll be remembered for? Better yet, something you can have more say in, what decisions will you make that will affect the future, that will affect history?