Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Birth of a Movement

On February 4, in Black History...

In 1974 on February 4, France abolishes slavery. The nation will have a lukewarm commitment to abolition and will, under Napoleon, reestablish slavery in 1802 along with the reinstitution of the "Code noir", prohibiting blacks, mulattoes and other people of color from entering French colonial territory or intermarrying with whites.

In 1913, on February 4 Rosa Parks, mother of the modern day civil rights movement was born. On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, age 42, refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Her action was not the first of its kind.  But unlike these previous individual actions of civil disobedience, Parks' action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. 
Parks eventually received many honors ranging from the 1979 Spingarn Medal to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall. Her death in 2005 was a major story in the United States' leading newspapers. She was granted the posthumous honor of lying in honor at the Capitol Rotunda. 
In her autobiography, My Story, Mrs. Parks remarks on that day on the bus:
“People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in" in." 


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