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RAW DOGMA                                                                       written by Nkrumah Steward
Rosa Parks is to the Civil Rights Movement what Ringo is To The Beatles.
Mrs. Rosa Parks, 43, is shown smiling as she walks on the street here, December 21. A Supreme Court ruling, which banned segregation on the city's public transit vehicles, took effect. Mrs. Parks' arrest on December 1st, 1955, for sitting in a bus forward of white passengers, touched off the boycott of Montgomery negroes against the city's bus lines.In the twilight of her life Rosa Parks has become something of an egomaniac. The associated press is reporting that Rosa Parks refused an invitation to attend the 2003 NAACP awards show because "the powers that be" in the NAACP decided that they wanted Cedric the Entertainer to host the show. You might remember Cedric the Entertainer is the comedian/actor who played a character named "Eddie" that criticized Rosa Parks in last summers hit movie "The Barbershop".
Rosa, it's a movie. In these things we call "movies" actors play what are called "characters". These actors say lines in the voice of these characters to reveal things to the audience about the character's personality and move the plot along.
Essentially Rosa Parks boycotting the NAACP awards show is like me not buying Alpo because I didn't like something Loren Green's character said in "Roots".
You see Rosa Parks is to the civil rights movement what Ringo Starr was to the Beatles. Sure technically he was there and apart of it all, but if you think that there never would've been a Beatles if it wasn't for fucking Ringo then you are fooling yourself.
And I don't mean any disrespect by that to Ringo or to Rosa Parks I am just telling it like it is.
During the United States civil rights movement participating in protests of civil disobedience was literally taking your life into your own hands. There was a long history of blacks being killed in cold blood, in broad-fucking-daylight in the south without anyone ever going to trial or even being charged. Crystal clear photographs of people posing next to a freshly lynched black male were taken and sold at lynching that could only be characterized as carnival type events sometimes attracting tens of thousands of people. Pieces of their victims hearts, toes and fingers were sold as souvenirs at these lynchings and no one would be brought up on charges for anything despite having a corpse, 1000 witnesses and photographs to place you at the scene of the crime. And far too often that rule of "looking the other way" when it came to violence targeted towards demonstrators also applied to whites, Jews and whomever else lent their support to everything from challenging segregation to helping voting registration drives in the south. It would be a gross understatement to say that the mood was hostile towards anyone challenging the status quo.
Just to give you an idea of what I am talking about do you know what Rosa Parks as actually charged with? This is funny actually. By not giving up her seat she was actually in violation of a seldom-invoked anti boycott law in Alabama. It was illegal to protest. Few people today can even comprehend what Jim Crow law was about down south but here is a little tidbit you can take with you. Jim Crow was so bad in the south that blacks had to pay for their bus ride in the front of the bus, then get off the bus to enter from the back. Blacks were often forced to stand while the seats in the front were empty just to avoid any incidents when white passengers would board.
These protestors, regardless of how harmless refusing to give up your seat seems today, could not count on the protection of the police department, their local government, state government and until Truman and Eisenhower took office you couldn't even count on the federal government protection because J. Edgar Hoover didn't give a shit about what happened to your black ass.
That is why it was so important that they took advantage of the national exposure that the media could bring to use as a weapon to defend themselves against everyone in the south that had power to look the other way when violence would erupt. If they couldn't use the images on those television cameras to appeal to the general decency of the average white American to say "hey what they are doing to those Negroes down there is wrong" then they didn't have a prayer in hell of changing the conditions that they lived under.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of these protest, the NAACP sold the story to America that this respectable, law abiding black woman was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man and over night, news circulated all over the country.
You are supposed to believe that on news that Rosa Parks was arrested civil rights leaders were called into town and just like that; the decision was made to hold a bus boycott that lasted over a year to desegregate the bus system in Montgomery, Alabama and thus sparking the modern civil rights movement.
The reality was that it was all planned out before hand.
A less publicized but successful bus boycott took place in Baton Rogue, Louisiana in June of 1953. This protest only lasted 10 days and was successful in demanding a modification to the more humiliating Jim Crow practices on their bus system. In that particular case, segregation itself wasn't challenged but that protest was used as a blueprint for the one in Montgomery in which Rosa Parks took part on December 1, 1956.
The conventional wisdom at the time was that if this protest were to work in Montgomery, Alabama with all of the national media coverage, the extensive support and opposition, it could stimulate similar protests in other places and eventually become a turning point in American history, which it did, but the question still remains what did she do?
I will tell you what she did. Rosa Parks played a role just like Cedric the Entertainer; in this case she was the quiet, respectable, hard-working seamstress that had worked all day and was just too tired to give up her seat that day. She came in stage left, said her lines, was taken to jail in front of news cameras and probably got paid for her trouble.
She was handcuffed and taken off the bus and the media was already there. She is getting fingerprinted in the city jail and the media is already there.
Blacks that normally got carted off the bus for something like this were looking at a world of hurt or just never seen or heard from again.
It's not like she gave up her seat and took an ass kicking. They didn't even rough her up on the bus. And it isn't like something like that would've been unheard of at the time.
So what exactly did she do in her mind that made her so sweet?
What else has Rosa Parks done that history will remember her by?
What speeches has she given --- anywhere that have? What books has she written if any? In other words, what did she was refuse to give up her seat in a orchestrated, well-organized, media event designed to focus the nations attention on the horrible Jim Crow laws in practice in the south in 1956?
That is what Rosa doesn't seem to understand; ANYONE could've sat down on the bus and gotten taken to jail where NAACP lawyers were already there waiting with bail money in hand.
I mean, give her credit for doing it but let's be realistic.
If there is no Lennon then there is no Beatles. If there is no McCartney there are no Beatles. If there is no George then there are no Beatles. But if you don't have Ringo --- well you get my point.
No Martin Luther King no Civil Rights Movement. No Thurgood Marshall no civil rights movement. No Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam to offer as an alternative to their non-violent counterparts, no civil rights movement. No, Rosa Parks then it s Jane Johnson or Mary Williams.
Rosa, if your going to be upset with anyone at least be upset with the screenwriters. Hell, maybe even the director but why are you upset the guy that played the part? Three years ago she sued the rap group Outkast for just making a song titled "Rosa Parks". The song wasn't even about her.
Like I said, somebody close to her needs to pull her aside and help Ringo put things in perspective.
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Source: Associated Press
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