Standing Up to Injustice

Rosa Parks - Tuskegee, Alabama
Entered on April 5, 2005
Rosa Parks
Photo Source: Ebony Magazine

Rosa Parks became known as the "first lady of civil rights" when she refused to give up her seat on a public bus for a white passenger. Ms. Parks believed that standing up to injustice was her path toward true freedom.

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It’s funny to me how people came to believe that the reason I did not move from my seat was my feet was tired. My feet were not tired. But I was tired of unfair treatment. I saw and heard so much as a child growing up, so much hate and injustice against black people. Long ago, I set my mind to be a free person and not to give in to fear. I always believed it was my right to defend myself if I could. I learned to put my trust in God and seek him as my strength. My favorite book of the Bible is Psalms. My mother used to read it to me when I was a child: The Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom should I be afraid?

I believe the Lord tests us. On many occasions I was tested. Back in the segregation days I walked upstairs rather than ride in elevators marked ‘colored.’ On hot days when my throat was dry, I walked past the ‘colored’ water fountain and waited until I got wherever I was going to get something to drink. I have never allowed myself to be treated as a second-class citizen. I believe you must respect yourself before others can respect you. I want to be remembered as a person who stood up to injustice, who wanted a better world for young people, and most of all, I want to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free. I still believe there can be a day when we will have true freedom, a day when we can all get along regardless of our race. This is not a dream. It is alive within the ability of us all. This I believe.

In 1996, Rosa Parks contributed a This I Believe essay for a joint venture undertaken by The Disney Channel and Voice of America (VOA). It was part of a series of 22 This I Believe segments that aired on television in between regular programming on The Disney Channel in the United States, and on radio internationally by VOA, which translated them into six languages. Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an African-American civil rights activist whom the U.S. Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.” Ms.Parks died in 2005.