Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rosa Parks Released from Prison

On this day in 1968, after nearly 13 years of prison, Rosa Parks, the famous Black woman whose refusal to comply to city ordinance that Blacks sit in the back of city buses began the campaign of Non-Violent Resistance that gradually began to end the legal position of minorities as second-class citizens in the CSA.

While her action seemed minimal, it prompted action from leaders among the Black community, particularly a young Martin Luther King, Jr., whose speech in Richmond at the Jefferson Memorial on a racially united South where all men (and women) were truly created equal. Though it would not be until 1971 that the Civil Rights Amendment was passed after the harsh treatment of caused negative sentiment toward racism (also, the year of death of Confederate President Hugo LaFayette Black, seemingly symbolic of the end), the long, slow, but promising transition to the end of "American Apartheid" was slow but gave promising steps throughout. Rosa Parks, for example, was freed two years early after mounting non-violent protest and letter-writing campaigns that swamped the Alabama State Prison system.

Although the South's transition to equality had its bloody times, it was peaceful compared with the near-civil war in the United States. After the CSA gained its independence, slavery continued to be legal until it ecame economically imfeasible and transformed into an apprenticeship system. Black freedmen migrated northward to full citizenship rights for years until the immigration crackdowns of the 1880s. Cities such as Detroit, Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., gained large Black populations that were initially embraced but soon seen as neighborhoods of trouble due to unemployment and low standards of living (brought on mainly by racism prevalent among Northern Whites).

Under the leadership of men such as Malcom X and through the Black Panthers movement, violence rose up continually among the Black population in resistance to oppression. Spread of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1930s in states such as Iowa and Indiana, which had sent vast numbers of soldiers years before in an attempt to free the slaves, now sought to keep down their Black neighbors. National Guard troops were routinely called in to place cities under martial law throughout the 1950s and '60s.

Seeing the plight of his Northern brothers Martin Luther King, Jr., began a campaign for solidarity, but only with those who would join him in gaining justice without bloodshed. He joined with others in organizing the Freedom Rides aimed at Chicago in 1961, using newly gained rights of interstate transit among Blacks to present a non-violent protest of violence on both sides. The buses were notoriously attacked shortly after crossing the Kentucky border.

After King's assassination in 1968 in Tennessee as he prepared a tour of the North, his Dream would live on and finally see conclusion with a transition to legal equality. While the question of social equality remains unanswered even after two generations, the turbulent times at least made progress toward a "day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood."

5 comments:

  1. she wasn't in jail for 13 years!!!!!

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  2. in Rosa Parks slips through the net set in a dystopian world where Nazidom won out, we imagine RP as a latter day Harriet Tubman, a freedom fighter operating a re-activated Underground Railroad.

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