Column: Sitting down

By Kiyoshi Martinez

Sometimes people become famous for their words, and others for their status and wealth. But once in a great while, the actions of an ordinary individual can resonate for decades and be powerful enough to permeate the social consciousness of an era and generations to come.

Rosa Parks was one of those individuals.

It’s hard to imagine that 50 years ago you could walk into a restaurant and not have it be divided by smoking and non-smoking, but by black and white. The concept of an institutionalized and racially divided world comes as something difficult to visualize to my generation in this very country. It’s astounding how the idea of “separate but equal” that is only thought of when reading textbooks today could even be so readily accepted by this entire nation.

I don’t remember exactly how old I was when my elementary school teachers taught the class in social studies about the civil rights movement and of Rosa Park’s story. To this day, just hearing her name alone brings thoughts about the historical significance her actions have had to this day.

Before Dec. 1, 1955, on that bus, in that seat, Rosa Parks was just another member of a sweeping national movement. Anyone could have become well-known for the reason that Rosa Parks is today, but what has separated her from many others who were part of the civil rights movement are her actions.

It’s one thing to be part of an idea. It’s another to take those convictions and stand up and fight for them.

Rosa Parks fought back by sitting down.

By sitting down, Rosa Parks ignited a boycott, which lasted more than a year.

By sitting down, Rosa Parks participated in an act that forced de-segregation in the South.

By sitting down, Rosa Parks changed America.

Just like how anyone could have been Rosa Parks, Rosa Parks could have been anyone. She became a representative of not just the civil rights movement and equality, but stood for every self-determining person who believed in the inherent right to do simply live their life.

She knew that she didn’t have to take it anymore. She knew what was entitled to her as a human being. And knowing the consequences of her actions, she sat there and refused to move from her seat and her convictions as a person.

With her death, her story continues and so do the lasting effects that changed the country we live in today. Her story should be an inspiration to those throughout the world who can look to an example of courage and dignity.

Kiyoshi Martinez is a senior in Communications. He is the Editor in chief. He can be reached at [email protected]