Journal Entry #4: Rosa Parks

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Fourth Stop: Rosa Parks!

For a moment, Toni seemed interested in the owner of the bookstore. She even was upset for me trying to insinuate that she would be interested in a man that was taken. It was like, I insulted her. I didn’t mean anything by it. Well, I did, but I thought she would just clap back at me.

My mistake.

She was livid and I wanted to make that right. I’m not sure why, but after our Jackie Robinson experience, our non-verbal understanding meant we were connected in a way. Even if that way was the fact that we felt like we didn’t measure up to be the pioneers that we heard so much about and reaped the benefits of their sacrifice.

I’m a single man, who works for a Fortune 500 company and I absolutely benefit from my ancestor’s sacrifice. Even down to my mother, God, rest her soul. The woman worked until her she passed away of breast cancer because she refused to give up and accept the disease.

She sacrificed her food for mine. She guided me towards college and made sure I had the right experiences and provisions. That was a sacrifice.

What had I done?

To date, not much that I could say impacted anyone’s life besides mine. This was something k felt convicted about and wanted to change.

***

When I walked in the bookstore, I tried not to focus that I had on my nice dark jeans, button down shirt and black shoes. My leather jacket was warm enough but, more importantly, stylish. When the door shut behind me, a gust of wind grazed my nostrils and I smelled how strong my cologne was.

Damn. I didn’t want to seem like I was trying too hard.

She wasn’t there yet, but I was thirty minutes early. I wanted to get a feel for this guy Kane and hear more about our experience. David seemed pretty good, in a grandfather sort of way, but he was also convicted, wise and very old school.

“Young man,” he greeted me.

See, very old school.

“Hey, David.”

“Ready for round four?”

“Oh yeah,” I said with more excitement than I cared to show.

“So when are you going to ask her out?”

“What!” I jerked my head around to face the man.

“When ” he paused, “are you going to ask her out?  I think she’d appreciate an apology first, so take heed.”

My head reeled back at his words, then I shook it just to clear my thought.

“I don’t know.” I started. “Maybe today?”

“Just know she’s independent, so she won’t come to you. You’ll have to make the first move.”

“I intended to,” I said as it seemed like he was schooling me on how to get the girl.

“Did you?” He raised an eyebrow.

“Yes.” He had a knowing smile as the older man nodded his head, effectively dropping the subject. “So, our journey, today. Who are we going to visit?”

As soon as I asked, the bell chimed and in walked Toni in a dress, showing off her shapely legs. As she walked towards us, my eyes stayed on the bottom half. It seemed as if she glided over to us on air in her red pumps. The temperature increased in the room and my leather jacket stuck to me causing sweat profusely.

“See something you like?” She asked with a smirk on her face.

“Maybe,” I replied as her eyebrow went up. “Maybe not.”

“Hmm,” she hummed and turned towards David. “Hey!”

“Hey, yourself.” The old man nodded. “Hot date?”

“Something like that,” she replied with a huge smile.

“Ahh,” he nodded and turned to me with an ‘I told you so,’ look. “Knock ‘em dead.”

“I will certainly try.”

What the hell?

The inferno within my body met a boiling point and just as it was about to start whistling, David said, “Good. Okay, troops. Looks like we’re ready.”

He was eyeing me and then we blacked out.

*****

We were standing on the side of a dirt road with A-frame houses in the front and back of us. Sixties-modeled cars were rolling down the streets with black people in them. It was, at least, five to six people in the cars and some were sitting on other folks laps. Throngs of commuters were traveling in all directions and they were all black. What wasn’t packed were the buses and their stops. A couple had passed by, but the people kept on walking. Some were fast, some were slow. Some limped and others who weren’t able to walk or make it far, were put in the back of pick-up trucks and taken to their destinations.

“What’s happening here?” Toni asked.

“This is the result of Rosa Parks refusing to go to the back of the bus after the driver wanted her to give up her seat to a white patron. She was arrested, released the same night and it was decided that her incident would be the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.” David swept his hand around in front of him and added, “That’s what this is.”

The overwhelming sense of unity, collective economics, and pride that filled me was almost paralyzing. When was the last time we have come together for a common cause and stood in solidarity for a cause? The argument amongst most of us is that marches don’t work. Boycotts don’t work anymore. That if we did not participate in Black Friday sales, it wouldn’t mean anything. We are not able to come together anymore for anything.

It was quite sad.

“How long did this go on for?”

“Three hundred and eighty-one days.” David nodded proudly. “It was one of the largest and effective boycotts of the century. Why should we continue to support those that do not support, respect or promote us?”

He swept his arm in front of him again, then said, “It was a significant sacrifice for the people that joined, but it was something that could not have worked if we didn’t do it together.”

Toni and I nodded in agreement.

“My cousin said he’d never boycott Black Friday because that’s the only time black people can afford things,” Toni added. “We had an enormous argument during Thanksgiving dinner.”

“Many people feel the same way but the thing that they forget is that their mere ability to shop at the same stores and use the same entrance is because of somebody’s boycott.”

“Yeah.” I nodded. “Exactly.”

“Rosa Parks was a courageous woman and her single act of civil disobedience served as a catalyst. You questioned yesterday if you had what it took to be one of these trailblazers. This one,” he pointed towards a crowd, “is also very courageous and it would not have worked if they did not align.”

Toni turned and faced him, then she nodded. “I get what you’re saying.”

“We don’t have to be the single person behind in the front. We can also be loyal to the cause and uniting together, no matter what,” I said as it hit me.

“United, we stand. Divided, we fall. This goes for all types of injustice.” David added. “It simply should not be tolerated.”

******

Thank you for experiencing Rosa Parks with us! We hope you stay tuned as we continue to explore various figures during this month and that you’ll take this snippet and learn more about Ms. Parks and her individual contribution to the movement.

 

What’s next?

Day 5:

  • Should Jared be mad about Toni’s date?
  • Experience the next historical figure, Benjamin O. Davis, the first African-American General in the U.S. Army
  • Find out who Day 6 will feature
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