The First Lady of Civil Rights

by Victoria Cepeda & Efrain Nieves

Today, marks the 56th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ refusal to obey bus driver James F. Blake’s order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. Her refusal to move started the Montgomery Bus Boycott which damaged the services of the Montgomery bus company and led to the lifting of the segregation law on public buses.

Although some of us were taught that Ms. Park’s refusal to move was motivated by none other reason than fatigue, she set the record straight in her autobiography titled My Story.

“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.”

As Mahatma Gandhi once said,  “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

We can all learn from both Ms. Parks and Mr. Gandhi when faced with the ongoing discrimination against us. But in particular, Latinos living in the U.S. must never be deterred from moving forward. As Rosa Park’s actions demonstrate once you rise and understand that you deserve better, others will join you, the status quo will be challenged and your cause will prevail. Pa’lante!

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