Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of Rosa Parks' birth. She died in 2005 but her legacy lives on. She is remembered for doing a small thing with a big impact, and it is important that we remember that. We often feel that nothing we do really matters, or that we can only do small things, but we must remember that all we do really does matter even though we may never know exactly how it will.
Rosa Parks lived in Montgomery Alabama in a time of segregation. People of color like her were supposed to sit in the back of the bus and even give up their seat in the "colored" section to a white person when the "white" section was filled . One day in 1955 she refused and was arrested. She and others like her became the inspiration for a citywide bus boycott which lasted 381 days and resulted ultimately in a Supreme Court decision overturning the bus segregation. It also helped launch the career of Martin Luther King Jr, and that led to a host of changes for people of color as well as the enriching of America.
I am continually amazed, and ashamed, of what my country allowed and promoted in terms of racial segregation and discrimination during those years. It was about the time when I was born (1956) and I guess being in Oregon and young I was not aware during my childhood of the climate in the South. But over the years I have become much more aware and try to do my part to combat similar things from happening today. As a country we have come far, but there is still so much to do to combat prejudice.
I learned two big lessons from my mother. One was that you treat everybody with the same kindness and respect, no matter who they are, where they are from, what their "status" is. It is basic human decency. She really believed that we were all created equal, not just saying it, but living it out every day. And she believed that every day you should do what you can to make this world better. She didn't have a "high" position in the eyes of most, just a mom raising my four sisters and I. But she delighted in doing the many small things that she could. My sisters and I grew up to do as she did and that is her legacy.
You may not be a Rosa Parks, or a mom with a family to raise, but you can make a difference even though you may see your efforts as small. Do whatever you can to make this world better, to make someone's life better today, and I will do the same.