Chariots of Fire                            Inspirations 

Tuesday October 25, 2005   The Quiet Strength of Rosa Parks    The quiet strength of Rosa Parks
The story of Rosa Parks, who died on Tuesday October 25th 2005, aged 92, is an inspiration to us all.

A lowly seamstress, her origins were modest in the extreme, yet she changed a nation. Her story can be told quite briefly. In 1950s Alabama, as in other Southern States, segregation laws were  in place. When asked to give her seat up for a white man on a bus - as the law demanded - Rosa refused. She was arrested, and 4 days later a boycott of all buses began. A certain Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr led what was to become the Civil Rights Movement.  Her action led indirectly not only to King's prominence but to the Alabama segregation law being overturned by the Supreme Court. Her simple act of defiance led to her being dubbed the "Mother of the Modem Day Civil Rights Movement." Her contributions to the nation were rewarded with a Congressional Gold Medal and a place  in Time Magazine's top 100 heroes of the century.

It was not fatigue that caused Rosa Parks to remain seated.  "The only tired I was, was tired of giving in," she explained.  "Why do you push us around?" she asked the arresting officer. "I don't know but the law is the law and you're under arrest." came the reply.

Put yourself in Rosa's position. Someone in a position of authority asks you to do something that you know is unjust. What do you do? Feel outraged, but give in? Begin a violent argument? Rosa did neither. Quiet strength won the day.

What relevance has Parks's quiet defiance today?  Three lessons can inspire each of us in our daily lives.

Just because you appear weak does not mean that you are powerless. Rosa Parks happened to have the tide of history and one Martin Luther King on her side. But she didn't know that when she acted. Could it be that the causes you believe in are waiting for a quiet champion? Could the time be right for you? Are  there more powerful people who may join your cause?

Secondly, you don't have to start a riot to make a difference. Quiet strength may be all that is needed. Stand firm for what you believe in, and, if enough people agree with your cause, and justice is on your side, then you may change the world, as Rosa Parks did.

The final lesson that Rosa Parks can teach us is to think long-term,  not short-term. Rosa Parks went to prison, lost her job and even had to relocate. In the short-term, she suffered for her defiance. But she ended up making  a major and positive difference to her country and became a celebrated hero. Are your long-term goals worth suffering some short-term discomfort?

External Links

The Guardian, Tuesday Oct 25, 2005  Civil rights champion Rosa Parks dies
Interview conducted in 1996 Rosa Parks: The Woman Who Changed a Nation
Scholastic Teaching Material Rosa Parks: How I fought for Civil Rights
Time Magazine Heroes Heroes and Icons
Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the Net Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development Reach your highest potential through the Rosa Parks philosophy of "quiet strength"
Rosa Parks Portal Portal for web resources on Rosa Parks

contact:                               ©  Tim LeBon 2005