Rosa Parks became a powerful symbol of courage and defiance in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s by simply refusing to give up her seat to a white man and move to the back of the bus, as the racist culture of that time dictated she was supposed to do.
Only, there was nothing simple about it. As personally courageous as she was, Ms. Parks was not alone that day, nor was her defiance simply the spontaneous reaction of a woman who was tired — tired after a long day of work, tired of domineering white rule, tired of going along to get along. Parks was part of a deep and wide grassroots movement for African-American rights and dignity. It was this movement that developed the sit-down strategy, trained Parks for this moment of refusal, and surrounded her with the support and love she needed to withstand the clamor of hate that followed. Rosa Parks was not alone on that bus.
Half a century later, a new movement for justice is following in the footsteps and in the spirit of those earlier civil rights activists. Steadily building broad grassroots coalitions of civil rights groups, labor, church leaders, students, teachers, environmentalists, retirees and others, this movement is literally moving through Southern states. It is gaining popular support by directly confronting the immorality of extremist governors, legislators and corporate lobbyists who’re denying health care to poor families, preventing both the elderly and students from voting, gutting state funding for public education, and generally legislating a permanent state of inequality and injustice for millions of people.
This promising progressive uprising began last year in North Carolina as the “Moral Monday” movement, named for its weekly peaceful protests at the state Capitol. It has now spread to “Moral Monday Georgia” and “Truthful Tuesday” in South Carolina. To follow its progress and offer support, go to www.naacpnc.org.
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