Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Great Loss to the Civil Rights Community

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that The Shadow announces the passing of Rosa Parks yesterday. She died of natural causes in her home city of Detroit at the age of 92.

Rosa Parks
(Photo Courtesy Associated Press and CNN.com)

Ms. Parks is best remembered as the Montgomery, Alabama seamstress who refused to yield her seat on a full bus to a white man in December 1955. Jim Crow laws were in effect at the time that required a black person to yield a seat to a white person if the bus was full. Because of Ms. Park's refusal, she was arrested and jailed.

The arrest caught the attention of a little-known minister at the time -- The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. He came to Montgomery and organized a boycott of the public transportation system that lasted 381 days. King eventually won the Nobel Peace Prize for this peaceful boycott. Ms. Parks, after receiving threats and losing her job, later moved to Detroit and joined the staff of Rep. John Conyers.

She was very active on the lecture circuit, even in her 80s. She also co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development to help young people pursue educational opportunities, get them registered to vote and work toward racial peace.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 and the Congressional Gold Metal in 1999. She was also the subject of a documentary -- "Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks." The documentary received an Oscar nomination in 2002.

The Shadow offers his condolesces to the surviving family and salutes the woman who was known as the "mother of the civil rights movement."


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