I was just 5 years old in 1955 when Rosa Parks (who died yesterday) refused to surrender her seat to a White man on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
She wasn’t trying to make a social or political point. Her refusal to give up her seat had nothing to do with the nascent Civil Rights Movement in the US South. She was just tired and wanted to sit where she was.
By refusing to give up her seat, and for her willingness to pay the price for her “RIGHT” to be seated where she was, Rosa Parks was arrested and became the over-night sensation of the Civil Rights Movement, that exploded to the center of the battle for inalienable EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL in the USA.
Rosa Parks’ simple refusal to be treated as an unequal person in Montgomery, Alabama 50 years ago, instantly made her the Poster-Person for Equal Rights and Freedom everywhere.
It’s too bad though, that 50 years after her historic refusal to be a Second Class Citizen, or a citizen with a different set of Rights, the elitists within our societies have forgotten the message, or twisted it out of meaning.
All Rosa Parks wanted, was to be treated equally. She wanted to sit anywhere there was an open seat on that bus. Not necessarily at the front. And not objectionably at the back. All she wanted was the choice.
I live in Canada, where the Right to Choose is limited to one’s culture, reflected by language.
In the Province of Quebec, where I used to live until the turn of the millennium (2000), the unrestricted use of the English language is against the law.
In Eastern Canada, farmers are permitted to sell their grain crops to whomever they want, at whatever price they can get, while in Western Canada, grain farmers must by federal law sell their crops to a government regulated board which sets the price.
In all of Canada, construction and renovation workers can work wherever they want with the exception of Quebec. Quebecers can work throughout the country, but the rest of the country can not work in Quebec.
Rosa Parks allowed herself to be arrested for the simple RIGHT to sit on a bus wherever she wanted. She wanted to be treated as an EQUAL citizen.
And here in Canada, my country that is so quick to sit in judgement of the rest of the world, especially the USA, Canadians do not have the unrestricted right to work where they want, or to enjoy EQUAL freedom of verbal and graphic expression in the language of their choice.
It is a terrible pity that the lesson of Rosa Parks has been lost on Canada.
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