Ink and watercolor on 9″ x 12″ watercolor paper
Rosa Parks (1913-2005) is one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama she refused to obey a bus driver who demanded she give up her seat for a white person, for which she was arrested. We know this story, we’re taught it in school, but I think it’s something to really think about: She was considered a criminal for being born black in the south and sitting on a certain seat on a bus, and this was less than 65 years ago.
Less than 65 years.
Her story quickly spread through the civil rights movement and became a crucial example of why things needed to change. It didn’t come without a cost, either. She was fired from her job and received death threats for years after. She left the south for Detroit, MI and later worked for Representative John Conyers as his executive assistant from 1965 to 1988, serving her community for the rest of her working life and pushing the message that the struggle for equality and justice was nowhere near done. Her act of civil disobedience and subsequent work earned her numerous honors including the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Upon her death in 2005 she was the first woman to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda.
Less than 65 years ago. There are people still in the workplace who were born when it was illegal to sit somewhere on a bus if you were black. It was a crime to be born looking a certain way in a certain part of the world. Rosa Parks’ legacy sits with us now and always, because the struggle for justice is an ongoing one.