Rosa Parks Rememberance

From yesterday's N&O:

Fred Battle remembers having to sit in the back of the bus. So he and the local NAACP are hosting a bus-ride tribute to the late Rosa Parks on Thursday, the 50th anniversary of her refusal to give up her seat.

"Most people are not even familiar with the history of the Montgomery bus boycott," Battle said. "This is our attempt to not only pay tribute to what's happening in the present but also to educate people."

All are welcome to board Chapel Hill Transit buses at 11 a.m. at the Hargraves Community Center, 216 N. Roberson St. [MAP] The buses will travel down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and then head to the Franklin Street post office, where a rally will begin at noon with Battle and civil rights lawyer Al McSurely.



Below is a copy of letter that I'm sending to Chapel Hill Transit.

Dear Chapel Hill Transit:

Today, local leaders are hosting a bus ride and rally to remember Civil Rights leader Rosa Parks. It is a moving and appropriate way to remind us all—young and old, black and white, gay and straight—of the great contribution this strong woman made to our country. Her willingness to take a stand changed America for the better and inspired subsequent generations to insist on equal treatment of all Americans regardless of race, gender, creed, handicap, and sexual orientation.

To honor this great American woman, I propose that Chapel Hill Transit install small memorial plaques on the first seats on your buses that say, simply, "Rosa Parks, 1913-2005"

We all know the history of Mrs. Parks—her expectation that all should be treated with respect, her demand for equal treatment under the law, and her reminder to a nation that all Americans are endowed with certain inalienable rights.

This simple memorial, adhered to the first seat on the first row of your buses, would make a statement that we haven't forgotten and that we won't forget. Americans should be reminded every day that a right as simple as where one can sit has not always been respected in our country.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


Mayor Michael Nelson
Town of Carrboro

I second the request.

The National Theme for the celebration of Black History Month in the year 2006 is "Celebrating Community: A Tribute to Black Fraternal, Social, and Civic Institutions."

Perhaps the plaques could be made before our 2006 African American History month celebration, and in Febrary 2006 a local "Black Fraternal, Social, or Civic Institution" could ceremoniously affix the plaques inside the CHT buses.

Thank you for your leadership, Michael. Your letter was well-written and on point.

Rosa Parks is one of my daughter's heroes. It would thrill her, I am sure, if we took a ride downtown and she were to "discover" this plaque.

I would get the treat of listening to her tell the story once again.

The rally today was a great event. Very inspiring. Ashley Osment delivered a strong moral challenge to being content with celebrating historic achievements when much is left to accomplish. Yonni Chapman gave a great history lesson. And Fred Battle proved as ever a powerful emcee and spoke of the long history of bus incidents in Montgomery. I learned a thing or two from him and Yonni.

Nice of you to say, David.

And I can't take credit for the idea. Mark K. and I were in Seattle for a conference two weeks and ran across a sign like this on a bus. We had climbed onto a bus heading dowtown and were pleasantly surprised to see a "Rosa Parks---1913 to 2005" sign on the first seat in the first row. You couldn't miss it when getting on the bus.

I can't find the words to describe how moving it was. It was so simple a memorial and yet so powerful. I think it's a particularly appropriate way to remember Mrs. Parks and what she stood for.

There's a nice report on the event in today's DTH

Mike Nelson should be applauded for his leadership in helping this idea to become reality-

From today's Herald:

"Chapel Hill Transit buses now display plaques honoring Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin and Mary Louise Smith.

Parks, of course, you know. But like her, Colvin and Smith also were civil rights pioneers. The three women were arrested, charged, jailed and fined for refusing to give up their seats on a city bus and stand so that white riders could sit, in the 1950s in Montgomery, Ala.

While Parks was much better known, Colvin and Smith also were plaintiffs in the 1956 court case that ended segregation on buses in Montgomery."


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