When I was a kid I thought the back of the bus was the party place to be. And then I discovered it had a negative racial connotation. And then I learned about Rosa Parks. Here in the midst of Black History Month, let's stop and consider the courage it took for an individual black woman to do what she did.
Buses were a big symbol in the Sixties -- "You're either on the bus or off the bus," was the slogan for hippies and wanna-be-cool white kids. It wasn't so simple for people of color though. In many locales in the U.S. they were physically on the bus while philosophically kept off the bus. Whatever drama played out with the Merry Pranksters on Ken Kesey's bus Further in the Sixties was nothing compared to what people of color were going through in places like Alabama, where Rosa Parks had boarded a bus in 1955 and changed the face of race relations forever. What she did was no prank, but a history-changing move to help end racial segregation.
It's a simple fact that blacks in the U.S. in the Fifties and Sixties were still treated like second class citizens in parts of the country. Rosa Parks, in refusing to give her seat to a white person, started a stone rolling that created an avalanche that ultimately crashed down on the bigots and racial haters. If you don't believe that's true, take a visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC to see who's opening the mail addressed to "Resident" these days. Or -- you know -- President.
Stamp image © USPS