One Step at A Time

June 1, 2010
By , Atascadero, CA
“Every part of my life pointed to the white superiority and Negro inferiority,” said Rosa Parks, today known as the mother of modern-day civil rights movement in America. Looking back on her life Rosa said this acknowledge the kind of racism that happening during that time. There are many parallels between Park’s life and Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.

For example, throughout Park’s journey and the story, great courage was displayed in an effort to make a drastic change. The ill tempered, cranky, Mrs. Dubose is an excellent example of this. “She had her own view about things […] I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you are licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what,” said Atticus, a wise and a man with many morals in the novel (112.) Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict, though before she died she knew that she wanted to end her life freely. This meant she had to put a stop to her consumption of morphine. The day Mrs. Dubose did die, she died courageously, free from the restraints of the addiction. Rosa and Mrs. Dubose both had a great deal of courage despite having completely different motivations. In Park’s life, courage was essential when dealing with the racist remarks and actions primed against her. She was determined to make a difference and decided to make a stand. She once stated, “I have learned that over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

Another common element shared between the novel and Rosa Parks was injustice for blacks. In both the novel and Park’s conviction, extreme unfairness was shown in court. In the novel, Tom Robinson, a crippled black man, was falsely accused of raping Mayella Ewell, the daughter of the worst white man in there small town, Maycomb. When Tom is absolutely not guilty, considering his crippled arm, the prejudice jury sentences the innocent man to death. Similar grievance is displayed in the court case that Rosa was involved with. “I was arrested for violating segregation laws by simply refusing to surrender my seat to a white male passenger, and was additionally fined $14,” claims Parks (How I Fought for Civil Rights 4.) While most people would give up at this point, four days after her arrest, the black people of Montgomery and sympathizers of other races decided to make a change.

In both the book and in Rosa’s years drastic to slight measures were made towards diminishing racism toward the African Americans. In the novel, the trail of Tom Robinson and the inequality that was shown, helped some of the towns people that Negroes and White people were, in fact, equal. “And I thought to myself, well, we’re making a step—it’s just a baby-step, but it’s a step,” claims Mrs. Maudie, an incisive woman in the story (216.) Finally, in the story, the people are beginning to realize that although the dark skinned people are different, they are still people, and they should be treated no different. In Rosa’s case, her supporters organized and promoted a boycott of the city bus line declares Gregory Reed, author of Quiet Strength (Quiet Strength 13.) This bus boycott lasted 381 days and the African Americans either walked or arranged their own rides rather than taking the bus. The boycott finally ended when the U.S. Supreme Court declared bus segregation unconstitutional. The changes made toward racism may have drastic or may have just been a “baby step,” but either is an advancement in the right direction.

Many aspects of Rosa Park’s legacy and To Kill a Mockingbird can teach us to continue to make “baby steps” and encourage us to live for something that we believe to be is right. An extremely admirable man, Martin Luther King Jr., once declared, “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” This is something that we can all live in accordance to and we CAN revolutionize the way we think about others. To Kill a Mockingbird and Rosa Parks inspired a generation to fight for civil rights— one baby step at a time.

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JWVon said...
Jun. 8, 2010 at 11:02 pm
Amazing job! I thought Rosa Parks would be a hard topic to link to TKAM but you did it perfectly! No wonder it was rated number one.
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