American Hero Dies, Nobody Notices

Andrea Fugazot

In class Wednesday morning, at approximately 10:30, I was completely and utterly ashamed of myself. I hadn’t gotten a failing test grade back, and I hadn’t answered a question wrong. All I had done so far was read the overhead with the points of discussion for the day. It was point number one that had evoked this unpleasant feeling of guilt inside me. As many of you may not be aware, Rosa Parks, the “mother of the civil rights movement,” the brave woman who refused to give up her seat on the bus, passed away on Monday, October 24, 2005. How is it that in a place brimming with some of the most intelligent people in the country, an event like this passed unnoticed?

College students always joke that living on a college campus is like living in a bubble, that we’re not aware of what’s going on in “the real world”. Well, even if we are in a bubble, we must not forget its transparency. We should still be looking through it and every once in a while take note of what is going on. Having just discovered that I too had given in to the “bubble effect,” I am now determined not to let myself do it again. It’s a shame that such a great woman passed away without so much as a ripple throughout our community, and it is necessary to consider the implications of that.

Now that we have been made aware, it is important to reflect. Who was Rosa Parks? Rosa Parks was a woman who was not just tired from a long day at work, but tired of a long history of oppression and mistreatment that she and others of her race had faced.

When she refused to give up her seat, the message she sent was not, “Let poor tired women get some rest while riding a bus.” It was, “We’re the same as you, and I’m tired of you not treating us that way.”

Rosa Parks was a spark that contributed to the fire of the civil rights movement. She was a familiar name and a familiar face that served as a role model for many people. She was a woman who stood up for what she believed in by sitting down.

A question was raised by my professor: What would you stand up for? What do you believe in so strongly that you would take a stand for it – no matter the opposition, no matter the consequences?

I think it’s important that we all find that something within ourselves. Once we know what that one thing is that we would defend no matter what, we know our purpose in life and can start to make a difference in the world. We can spark our own change and die peacefully knowing that the fire we have left behind will continue to burn long after we are gone.