Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The power of quiet resistance

Rosa Parks is dead. For those who don't know, she is the woman whose refusal to give up her seat to a white man helped spark the US civil rights movement. Here's how she described it:

I had left my work at the men's alteration shop, a tailor shop in the Montgomery Fair department store, and as I left work, I crossed the street to a drugstore to pick up a few items instead of trying to go directly to the bus stop. And when I had finished this, I came across the street and looked for a Cleveland Avenue bus that apparently had some seats on it. At that time it was a little hard to get a seat on the bus. But when I did get to the entrance of the bus, I got in line with a number of other people who were getting on the same bus.

As I got up on the bus and walked to the seat I saw there was only one vacancy that was just back of where it was considered the white section. So this was the seat that I took, next to the aisle, and a man was sitting next to me. Across the aisle there were two women, and there were a few seats at this point in the very front of the bus that was called the white section. I went on to one stop and I didn't particularly notice who was getting on the bus, didn't particularly notice the other people getting on. And on the third stop there were some people getting on, and at this point all of the front seats were taken. Now in the beginning, at the very first stop I had got on the bus, the back of the bus was filled up with people standing in the aisle and I don't know why this one vacancy that I took was left, because there were quite a few people already standing toward the back of the bus. The third stop is when all the front seats were taken, and this one man was standing and when the driver looked around and saw he was standing, he asked the four of us, the man in the seat with me and the two women across the aisle, to let him have those front seats.

At his first request, didn't any of us move. Then he spoke again and said, "You'd better make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats." At this point, of course, the passenger who would have taken the seat hadn't said anything. In fact, he never did speak to my knowledge. When the three people, the man who was in the seat with me and the two women, stood up and moved into the aisle, I remained where I was. When the driver saw that I was still sitting there, he asked if I was going to stand up. I told him, no, I wasn't. He said, "Well, if you don't stand up, I'm going to have you arrested." I told him to go on and have me arrested.

He got off the bus and came back shortly. A few minutes later, two policemen got on the bus, and they approached me and asked if the driver had asked me to stand up, and I said yes, and they wanted to know why I didn't. I told them I didn't think I should have to stand up. . . . They placed me under arrest then and had me to get in the police car, and I was taken to jail.

Parks was fined $10 plus $4 costs, but her act of quiet resistance led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a unanimous Supreme Court ruling declaring segregated public transport unconstitutional, and eventually, the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Her example inspired millions, and America is a better place because of her.


Hi Idiot,

How effective are you finding the blogger trackback feature? I only ask because I was considering adding it to my blog, but I have noticed it often fails to pick up links to other blogger blogs.

As an example, I linked to this post, but the trackback does not appear to have registered. Do the links have to be structured in a particular way? Any ideas?

Posted by Joe Hendren : 10/26/2005 11:18:00 PM

It's certainly patchy - there's a time delay before Google's spider picks up a link, but sometimes it doesn't pick up anything. OTOH, Technorati has its own problems, and having the links right there on the post is quite useful (though possibly more useful for the readers, if they want to follow the replies to a post).

Being able to do proper trackback might be better, but I understand that's vulnerable to spamming with fake packets...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 10/27/2005 12:38:00 AM