This Martin Luther King Day Weekend, some awfully insensitive tweets have been floating about. The author of Hillary’s America, Dinesh D’Souza, took a shot at Rosa Parks, claiming she didn’t really do much at all, a statement I have to dispute. Rosa Parks, an activist in her own right, paved a way for me to have a full and active part in society as a young black woman. The Civil Right’s movement was in my grandmother’s and my mother’s lifetime, a fact we shouldn’t take lightly. In the span of American history, this movement only ended 30 years before I was born, the historical equivalent of a blink of an eye.
OVERRATED DEMOCRATS DEPT: So Rosa Parks wouldn't sit in the back of the bus–that's all she did, so what's the big fuss?
— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) January 14, 2017
Parks sparked a movement. Her refusal to sit in the back of the bus was her refusal to kowtow to a system that America is, and rightfully should be, embarrassed about. It was a refusal to be ashamed of who she was, a black woman. It was a refusal to be treated as less than she deserved to be. It was a refusal to continue living this way, seen as less than human, barely more than an animal.
This is the same system of inequality that wouldn’t have allowed me to dine with my adoptive family, to drink from the same water fountain, or sleep in the same hotel. I could attend the same high school as all of my white friends. I can use the same bathroom, live in the same neighborhood, date my white boyfriend without the fear of being lynched. Her refusal to move was more than just a seat to relieve her tired feet after a long day of hard work, it was her saying that she, and other people of color, were just as human as their white counterparts. Her refusal to move from her seat in the front may not mean a lot to Dinesh D’Souza, but it should, as he would have had to sit right next to me in the back of the bus.
The action of refusing to move was a small action itself. However, every action has a reaction, and the reaction was sit-ins, protests, and eventually, change. The Montgomery Bus Boycott forced the local government to take positive action through desegregating the bus system. This was a catalyst for black equality and desegregation throughout America, not just a seat, and not just a matter of comfort. Parks made a difference, one I directly benefit from.
It’s also worth noting, D’Souza does not speak for all right-of-center people. He doesn’t represent the party of Lincoln, a republican President who freed every American slave. He doesn’t represent President Eisenhower, a republican President who desegregated schools. He doesn’t represent Condoleezza Rice, the first African American woman to hold the position of Secretary of State, a position she might not have held if it wasn’t for Rosa Parks. And D’Souza doesn’t represent me, a woman proud of my heritage and proud of how far black Americans have come and how much more I can achieve than generations before me.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Ms. Rosa Parks herself, “Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.” I’d like to think that her works and deeds continue on in me.