Friday, October 28, 2005

One man's tribute to Rosa Parks

Barry Saunder, a columnist for the Raleigh News & Observer, provides a perspective that most Americans have forgotten:
I rode the bus Wednesday. That's it; end of story. I sauntered aboard that bad boy just as big as you please and sat in every unoccupied seat except the driver's.
Unlike most of the riders I talked to, I wasn't riding because of high gas prices or because it was my only mode of transportation.

I didn't even have anyplace to go. It was just my tribute to Rosa Parks.

As a further tribute, I went to a movie -- and for the first time sat right on the front row. My eyes are still paying for it, too. How'd y'all do that all of those years?

I later went to stores and tried on coats, shoes, even a hat -- all things I couldn't have done before Parks sat down on that Montgomery, Ala., bus in 1955 and demanded her rights.

You know how young people today wear oversize trousers? Some people think that anti-fashion trend started in prison. Maybe so, but it could just as easily have started from the pre-Rosa 1950s, when black parents bought their sons' pants too big because stores forbade them to try them on. Buying them too big, although unfashionable, at least gave you margin for error.

I took my son along to the stores Wednesday and let him know that the things we take for granted -- trying on clothes, eating in restaurants, sitting at the front of the theater -- were once verboten.

"Aw, Dad, you've told me that a hundred times," he groaned, seemingly unimpressed. Of course, many 16-year-old boys aren't impressed by much outside of girls, music and that reverse layup Iverson hit in a recent game.

The only way I'll know if my walking history tour worked is if, 20 years from now, he takes his own kid and reminds him of the price paid by Parks and others for them to enjoy their current rights.
Some things are worth remembering. And honoring those who fought for freedom is one way to keep the memory alive. Thank you, Mr. Saunders.

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