Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thank You, Rosa, for Refusing to Give Up Your Seat

I guess I grew up sheltered.  Graduating high school in the mid-80's, I thought racism was a thing of the past.  I grew up in a town of very few people of color (or so I thought; I just didn't realize the town was so segregated at the time).  Going to a Catholic school for 12 years, there were only 3 black students I can remember, and they weren't in my grade and were there just a short time.

I was naive when I went off to college, and was surprised at the amount of racism I saw around me, not just towards blacks, but other races as well.  I really couldn't believe in this day and age that people judged others simply by their skin.  It didn't make sense to me.  I was even the target of negative attitudes and comments by whites and blacks alike, because I had black friends and friends of other races.  My eyes were opened even more when I moved to south and saw blatant discrimination against some blacks in the workplace.

I was blessed not to be exposed to discrimination from my parents and those around me growing up.  I have been blessed to learn to value someone for who they are, not for the color of their skin.  I have been blessed to have made many friends of all colors in  my life.  Two of my dearest and closest life friends happen to be black.

When I heard on the news today that it was 55 years ago that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, I realized that that wasn't very long ago.  As a teen, 55 years ago was greater than a lifetime.  As an adult, I see that it was just 12 years before I was born.  Not very far past at all.  It helps me to understand why there is still discrimination today.  Although I think discrimination is less now than it was 25 years ago when I was just entering the adult world, I think we still have a long way to go.

I want to say thank you, Rosa Parks, for refusing to give up your seat.  By doing so, you changed the pattern of this country for the better.  By doing so, you changed my life for the better.  Thank you, Rosa Parks!  May you rest in peace!

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