It’s almost been a year since President Barack Obama unveiled the first full-length statue of an African-American in the U.S. Capitol. And this summer I was filled with pride when I saw Rosa Parks’ nine-foot-tall bronze statue for the first time. It is a beautiful tribute to her strengthen of character and determination.
Ms. Parks is the first black woman honored with a statue in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. Her refusal to give up her seat on a segregated city bus in Montgomery, Alabama led to a year-long boycott that propelled Martin Luther King Jr. into the national spotlight and resulted in the 1956 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning segregation on public transportation across the nation.
When President Obama dedicated her statue on February 27 of last year, he painted this picture of her legacy:
“Rosa Parks tells us there’s always something we can do. She tells us that we all have responsibilities, to ourselves and to one another. She reminds us that this is how change happens—not mainly through the exploits of the famous and the powerful, but through the countless acts of often anonymous courage and kindness…and responsibility that continually, stubbornly, expands…our conception of what is possible.”
Her historic actions took place nearly 60 years ago, but clearly Ms. Parks’ courage, sense of civic responsibility and vision of a better America are still relevant today. In 2014, I would like to see more lawmakers take courageous steps to end gun violence, more professionals take on the responsibility to mentor our youth and more student athletes with the vision to see that college is more than a stepping stone to the NFL or NBA.
Let’s keep Ms. Parks’ legacy of courage, responsibility and vision alive long after Black History Month ends by stepping outside of our comfort zones armed with:
- COURAGE: Muster up the courage to take a stand for something. Publicly advocate for a change you want to see in your neighborhood or city. Use your Facebook and Twitter feeds to spread the word about a cause you care about.
- RESPONSIBILITY: Be a responsible citizen. Volunteer, mentor, exercise your right to vote. I enjoyed teaching middle school students about budgeting and household finance as a Junior Achievement volunteer.
- VISION: Expand your idea of what is possible. I can envision a female President of the United States and a Democratic governor of Florida! What’s your vision for a better tomorrow?