Friday, October 28, 2005

Well Deserved Honor

Racism is alive and well in the United States; but it takes more shadowy forms than the past when it was still sanctioned by society.

Thanks to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's, many of the walls that separated Americans from Americans were cracked and removed. We still have a long way to go, and most of the effort involves education and the realization that we must treat one another with the dignity that is rightfully ours as human beings. Given that advice, I hope the national discussion on race and equality will be reinvigorated by this happy news

Black civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks would become the first woman to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda under resolutions considered Thursday by lawmakers.

Parks' refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 led to a 381-day boycott of the city's bus system and helped spark the modern civil rights movement. She died Monday in Detroit at age 92.

The Senate approved a resolution Thursday allowing her remains to lie in honor in the Rotunda on Sunday and Monday "so that the citizens of the United States may pay their last respects to this great American." The House was expected to consider the resolution Friday.

In most cases, only presidents, members of Congress and military commanders have been permitted to lie in the Rotunda.

Parks would be the first woman and second black American to receive the accolade. Jacob J. Chestnut, one of two Capitol police officers fatally shot in 1998, was the first black American to lie in honor, said Senate historian Richard Baker.

Parks also would be the second non-governmental official to be commemorated that way. The remains of Pierre L'Enfant -- the French-born architect who was responsible for the design of Washington, D.C. -- stopped at the Capitol in 1909 -- 84 years after his death in 1825.

Rosa Parks' story should be told to every new generation of Americans. We have to be willing to stand up for what's right, even if it means swimming upstream against a current of hatred and divisiveness.

As a minority in this country, I can think of several instances when I have felt ridiculed, demeaned, and made to feel less American than my Anglo brothers and sisters. Some of it is blatant, but most of it is unconscious. Either way, it is still wrong. I hope to continue to educate those around me of the ways in which we perpetuate divisiveness. By exposing it, we can continue to work against it.

Rest in Peace, Mrs. Rosa Parks. Thank you for blazing a path towards unity.

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