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Perspective: Be courageous -- like Rosa Parks

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Rosa Parks showed courage. One day, she rode the bus. She was told to move to a different seat. She did not. She did what she believed was right.

This is a statement currently under consideration for first grade textbooks in Florida. The publisher is trying to comply with the governor’s Stop W.O.K.E. Act, which prohibits instruction that causes students to feel responsibility, guilt or anguish for what other members of their race did in the past.

The statement is ridiculous. It doesn’t explain that Rosa Parks was a Black woman sitting on a segregated bus in the section reserved for Blacks. Or that she was told to move so a white person could sit. She knew her act could lead to her arrest, which it did.

It was December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama. Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist sick of the second-class status of Black people. She wasn’t alone in her deep anger. Within days, the Black community, partly inspired by a speech by a 26-year-old pastor named Martin Luther King, organized a bus boycott that lasted 381 days.

The outcome was a Supreme Court ruling that outlawed separate seating on buses in Alabama. Another outcome was that Rosa Parks lost her job and couldn’t find another. She and her husband, also fired, received death threats. They left Montgomery for Detroit.

It’s time for the textbook publisher to show a fraction of Rosa Park’s courage with a truer version of her inspirational story.

I’m Deborah Booth and that’s my perspective.

Deborah Booth retired in Fall 2014 from NIU, where she was the director of External Programs for the College of Visual and Performing Arts.