Happy 100th Birthday, Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks’ picture, as it appears on a new U.S. postage stampKiara Jones says she feels sorry for what Rosa Parks had to go through.

“The bus driver kept yelling at her, asking her to move up out of her seat,” said Kiara, a third-grader at Coleman Young Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan, in an interview with the Detroit News.

Parks, of course, is remembered for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a racially segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

(“Segregated” means blacks and whites were separated.)

“I didn’t want to be pushed around,” she said years later, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The date was December 1st, 1955 – a time when discrimination against African-Americans was not only common in many places but also legal.

Parks’ arrest led to a boycott of Montgomery buses by African-American riders – a boycott that lasted more than a year.

It also triggered a chain of court battles – battles that helped lead to the desegregation of public transportation nationwide.

(A “boycott” means refusing to buy or use something.)

February 4th, 2013, would have been Rosa Parks’ 100th birthday.

On that Monday, the US Postal Service honored her by unveiling a new Rosa Parks postage stamp at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History in Detroit.

“The values that Rosa Parks’ stood for (and) fought for are values which we must fight for forever,” US Senator Carl Levin of Michigan said at the unveiling ceremony.

Parks’ birthday was also celebrated at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan – the museum that’s now home to the bus on which Parks was arrested.

You can even sit in the very same seat where she sat.

“It felt good — like Rosa Parks was right there on the bus,” Coleman Young 3rd grader Ashaunna Jackson told the News.

A lot has changed in our nation since Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat – “a seat where the world was changed,” as Levin said, according to the Associated Press.

Today, racial equality is the law of the land.

“Rosa Parks may not have been planning to make history,” President Obama in a proclamation marking her 100th birthday.  “But her defiance sparked a movement that advanced our journey toward justice and equality for all.”