Posted by: x | January 17, 2011

Take a Stand

“Radical” simply means “grasping things at the root.”
— Angela Davis

We all (hopefully) know about Martin Luther King, Jr. — how he took a stand and changed our country. So today, on the day we set aside to honor and remember him, I want to talk about someone else — someone who inspired him.

On March 2, 1955, a 15 year old girl in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to give her bus seat to a white woman. As the police pulled her off the bus, she screamed, “It’s my constitutional right!” Her name was Claudette Colvin. She was arrested and convicted of breaking the segregation law. Her friends and classmates turned from her, declaring that she had made things harder on them. She couldn’t get a job because of her criminal record. She had taken a stand, and it all seemed like it was for nothing. Instead of being a hero, she was shunned, and nothing changed.

But across that same city was a young black reverend who saw what Claudette did. His name was Martin Luther King, Jr, and he began to make speeches about the injustice of racial prejudice. And nine months later, a friend of hers took the same stand. Her name was Rosa Parks. Three days after that, the black population in Montgomery began boycotting the buses. And on December 20, 1957 — twenty-one months after Claudette’s stand — the buses in Montgomery were integrated.

People thought slavery would never end, but it did. Segregation still lasted for almost 100 years, and seemed like it would never end either. Most people didn’t see the point in fighting it. But a young girl risked her safety and reputation to stand up for what she knew was right, no matter the consequences to herself. Fifty-five years later, we have a black president, and my daughter gives me a puzzled look as I try to explain segregation.

Take a stand for what you know to be right. You can’t see where it might eventually lead.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

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