Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Rosa Parks Lives On

Although this woman of courage and conviction has died, the spunk that took her on to that bus lives on. Rosa Parks has been romanticized for school children, and that's too bad. She didn't just sit down on that bus because her feet were tired (in an interview, she said that her feet weren't even tired). Rosa trained at the Highlander Center in Tennessee for civil disobedience. As her conviction grew, so did her willingness to take the risk of arrest and even bodily harm. It's demeans her creativity and fearlessness to make her action a story about someone who was just too weary to move back. Even though the holiday and all of the fuss is about MLK (and tends to be focused upon the male leaders), there were incredibly strong women who made the civil rights dream a reality. Meanwhile, who is the Rosa Parks of today? One I have met is Cindy Sheehan. When I first saw her, in April, she was somewhat reluctantly beginning to speak out about her son Casey's death in Iraq. I saw her at Riverside Church in New York, and I was so moved by her suffering (it was the one year anniversary of Casey's death, and the 40th anniversary of MLK's speech against the Vietnam War) that I could not stop crying. It was like a punch in the gut to me, for my son (who is not in Iraq--but could be) and I are Cindy & Casey, too. I saw Cindy Sheehan again in June, when she spoke here in Kentucky at a rally. We sat on the grass and talked about our sons, and I tried to encourage her to keep speaking out and to understand how much her mission meant. She has a unique voice because of her very real and very legitimate suffering. So, when I learned of Camp Casey in August (I even heard about Cindy in Romania, where barely a scrap of news from the USA can be found!) I felt so proud and honored to have met her. Cindy is the real thing. You can read about her mission to stop the senseless killing in Iraq at Women of courage and conviction are finding creative ways to bring peace and justice to the world. This will never stop as long as there are mothers and daughters and sisters and lovers. Thank God. May Rosa rest in peace, and may she be assured that the truth will never die!