Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Stateside: Rosa Lee Parks - The Power of Many

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Rosa Lee Parks: The Power of Many

As I was trawling the Net looking for non-gaga information about the 92-year-old woman who will lie in honor in the US Capitol Rotunda today, I came across--then lost--a quote attributed to the lady herself regarding the state of affairs in Alabama at the time she refused to give up her seat on the bus.

In it, she talks about how black folks were required to pay their fare to the driver at the front door, then get back off the bus and go to the back door to board it. Sometimes the driver, having taken their fare, would drive off leaving passengers to wait for the next bus--or walk, if that fare was the last money they had.

If you think of the bus as a symbol of the nation's economy, is anything different in the U.S. today? The numbers of people--of all races--who are left standing at the kerb despite having paid their 40-hour, 50-hour, 60-hour way to the prosperity promised at every flick of the dial and on every roadside billboard grows by the minute.

Can there ever be another Rosa Parks, asked Betty Cuniberti, a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on October 27. She speculated about whether someone like Cindy Sheehan might be that person, but decided:

"Those around her are not a humble, unknown 26-year-old minister but familiar divisive faces. In an information society gone wild, Sheehan has ceased to be an ordinary person and grieving mother, and become one more personality that dozens of highly compensated pundits can slam back and forth at each other like a tennis ball, partly for our amusement."

To which I say, "Exactly!" And so long as the focus is on one person, then the task of changing what is burdensome to many will fail.

The emphasis on what a single individual can do surely misses the point of what happened in Montgomery, Alabama, fifty years ago. Thousands of people boycotted the bus company, risking arrest for loitering as they stood on street corners waiting for someone to give them a ride to the jobs they desperately needed not to lose. And thousands of drivers risked arrest for picking up those folks.

The Rosa Lee Parks story is *not* about the power of one; it is about the power of many. But the President's homily will no doubt focus carefully and intentionally on the individual as he leads tomorrow's self-congratulatory back-patting by politicians--those very same politicians who repeatedly close the back door of the bus and drive off. If they even send the buses to begin with.

*************

rosalea.barker@gmail.com

--PEACE--


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

27-29 Sept: Social Enterprise World Forum Live Blog

1600+ delegates from more than 45 countries have came together to share wisdom, build networks and discuss how to create a more sustainable future using social enterprise as a vehicle. Attending the Forum were social enterprise practitioners, social entrepreneurs, policy makers, community leaders, investors, activists, academics and more from across the globe... More>>

HiveMind Report: A Universal Basic Income For Aotearoa NZ

Results from this HiveMind suggests that an overwhelming majority of Kiwis believe that due to changing circumstances and inefficiencies in the current system, we need a better system to take care of welfare of struggling members in our society. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Hivemind: Medical Cannabis - Co-Creating A Policy For Aotearoa

Welcome to the fourth and final HiveMind for Scoop’s Opening the Election campaign for 2017. This HiveMind explores the question: what would a fair, humane and safe Medical Cannabis policy look like for Aotearoa, NZ in 2018? More>>

ALSO:

Lyndon Hood: Notes On National’s Election Campaign, In Poem Form

Nationyl’s bitumen-ing / As they du du / Seed groweth / River floweth / Then ‘dozer drives thru / Highway ensu. More>>