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STOOD UP BY SITTING DOWN

Roland

 

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (left) poses with her husband and the US civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks in 1990. Photograph David Turnley..Corbis

She etched her way into the Black history books on December 1st, 1955. On that day, in the city of Montgomery, Alabama, USA, she had refused to give up her seat to a white man as demanded by the driver of the municipal bus she rode in. Her refusal was considered a violation of the existing law which segregated against the blacks (The Montgomery City Code required that all public transportation be segregated and that bus drivers had the “powers of a police officer of the city while in actual charge of any bus for the purposes of carrying out the provisions” of the code. While operating a bus, drivers were required to provide separate but equal accommodations for white and black passengers by assigning seats. This was accomplished with a line roughly in the middle of the bus separating white passengers in the front of the bus and African-American passengers in the back. When an African-American passenger boarded the bus, they had to get on at the front to pay their fare and then get off and re-board the bus at the back door)!!!.

Parks

ROSA PARKS, from a lowly background by all standards, was a seamstress in a local department store and also a secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), she had subjected herself to this inhuman treatment for these many years. But on this day, the determination to fight for freedom of her people got the better part of her, leading to her refusal to move. Consequently, she was arrested. The leaders of the local black community organized a bus boycott that began the day Parks was convicted of violating the segregation laws. Led by young Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the boycott lasted more than a year—during which Rosa Parks not coincidentally lost her job—and ended only when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was unconstitutional. Over the next half-century, Parks became a nationally recognized symbol of dignity and strength in the struggle to end entrenched racial segregation.

Today, every American child learns about Rosa Parks in school. As the world celebrate her bravery and the unforgettable role she played in the abolition of repressive laws, we join in the party and encourage the youths to emulate such bravery and determination to fight for what they believe in irrespective of whatever limitations that come their way.

In subsequent episodes of WinnerWoman, we shall feature other icons whose activities are worthy of emulation in the quest to attain self actualisation and glorious heights.

 

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