Honoring Rosa Parks
Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 2:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 2:44 p.m.
For the seventh time in the history of the Rosa Parks Quiet Courage Committee, time will be set aside once again to give honor to Rosa McCauley Parks, one of history's best loved and admired American icons, who sat down while standing up for justice.
Almost all Americans, as well as people all over the world, are familiar with the brave stand she took on Dec. 1, 1955, when she refused to move from a bus seat "reserved" for white passengers only.
Although Parks was not the first person to take this stand, her actions at that pivotal time in the fight for justice caught the attention of first, the city of Alabama, the South, and ultimately, the entire nation.
It also caught the attention of a 26-year-old unknown Baptist preacher named Martin Luther King Jr., and the rest, as it is often said, is history.
And what powerful history it was, and still is today.
On Dec. 9, 57 years after Parks sat in her seat and refused to move, a county and citywide tribute will take place at 6 p.m. at Bartley Temple United Methodist Church. All citizens and admirers of Parks are invited to attend and share in this tribute. We also extend an invitation to our elected and appointed officials, including our newly elected local and state officials.
This year's tribute will be the first since the tragic shooting death of Trayvon Martin in February in Sanford, and our tribute will be dedicated not only in his memory, but also to all of the victims, both living and deceased, of the terrible enemy called injustice and inequality, which are determined to defeat those who seek what should have belonged to black Americans and other people of color at birth.
Our theme this year is "Justice on the Ropes: Winning the Battle." I have a special license plate holder on the back of my SUV that reads "Justice for Trayvon" that has been there since February. I do not intend to remove this message until there IS final justice for Trayvon.
As we enter our seventh year of honoring Parks, I am still filled with much pride every time I drive by the Rosa Parks RTS Downtown Station, which our committee worked hard to have renamed in Park's honor in February 2008, which was done after a unanimous vote by the Gainesville City Commission and officially dedicated that November in a grand ceremony right there at the sight of the beautiful bronze plaque erected at the station and paid for by many "generous donors."
I will never forget that day as long as I live and I thank God for allowing Parks to be given the honor due to her and I am also thankful for having a great and hard-working committee.
Finally, as the president and founder of committee, I will give my annual address during the tribute, which I am calling, "The State of Justice: 2012."
This year, I will deliberately focus on the tragedy of Trayvon, the "Stand Your Ground" law, and how Trayvon's death moved an entire nation to rally and cry out Trayvon's name, along with a cry for justice.
On behalf of the entire committee, I once again humbly and sincerely invite the entire community to come out on Dec. 9 and help us remember Parks. We look forward to seeing you there.
If you have any questions about the tribute, feel free to contact committee members Vivian Filer at 352-376-9956, Karen Cole-Smith at 352-395-5767, or me at either 352-665-4066 or 352-377-5022.
The Rev. Milford Lewis Griner is president and founder of the Rosa Parks Quiet Courage Committee in Gainesville/Alachua County, whose motto is "Preserving History ... Pursuing Justice."