Monday, October 24, 2005

Ms. Rosa Parks (1913 - 2005)

Miller: A lot of people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidences and things. They don't realize that there's this like lattice of coincidence that layers on top of everything. Give you an example, I'll show you what I mean. Suppose you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly somebody will say like "plate" or "shrimp" or "plate of shrimp" out of the blue no explanation. No point for looking for one either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness.
Otto: You eat a lot of acid, Miller, back in the hippie days?
—from Repo Man

"I did not get on the bus to get arrested. I got on the bus to go home."
Rosa Parks

"What a long strange trip it's been."
The Grateful Dead

"If you don't stand up, I'm going to have you arrested," Blake warned me. "You can do that," I told him. Blake then parked the bus in front of the Empire Theater and telephoned his supervisor. "Did you warn her, Jim?" his boss asked. "I warned her," Blake said. "Well then, Jim, you do it; you got to exercise your powers and put her off, yuh hear?" Blake called the police, who arrived in a few minutes.
—from The Narrative of Rosa Park

The most mind-boggling thing to me about the Rosa Parks incident, if I may call it that, is contemplating who was that bus driver and who was waiting for her seat? It’s not that they are more relevant, but I’ve always felt like if it was such a strange fate to be the catalyst for a social movement, what must it felt like to be the other side of that? Did the bus driver [who died a few years ago] and/or the passenger to whom Parks was supposed to defer—did they proudly tell their children or grandchildren, “I was the one?” Did they later come to believe they had been in the wrong? Did they ever apologize to Parks, or did they feel wronged by her and by history? What must it have been like for any fo those who where there, in that time, in that place?

It's true that Rosa Parks wasn’t the first to be arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus, and some have claimed that Park's refusal was premeditated and dictated by civil rights strategists. But even if her feet weren't tired that day, she was tired—and she was the one. Most of us will never know what that kind of fate feels like. She changed the world. May she rest in well earned peace.


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