Rosa Parks died on this past month at the age of 92. She will be missed by millions of people for her act of bravery 50 years ago. It was Dec. 1, 1955 when she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a White passenger, a decision that would ignite the Montgomery, Ala. bus boycott that lasted a whole year.
Unable to even fathom the trials and tribulations that so many Blacks suffered, having no real understanding of the daily struggle or the consequences that they faced, I find it very important that we respect the fight and the warriors who lost their lives. Parks lived for 92 years never getting the opportunity to meet the many lives she impacted. Yet today, we can board public transportation and sit where we please without fear of being sent to jail, badly beaten or killed. So I thank her and the thousands of others who fought for me.
It is necessary to show the people who came before us that their work wasn't in vain, and no matter how small the effort, we can all do our part. Despite the fact we've come a long way and have demanded a place in society, let us not forget that it doesn't mean that the fight is over.
In fact, things have gotten worse. Our biggest fights use to be racism, fears of our young men being lynched or our little girls being raped. Yet we are now fighting drug addiction, AIDS, poor health, low self-esteem, displaced little girls and angry little boys.
That's why it is so important that we remember that what we do truly affects the world. Every time Black-on-Black crime raises its ugly head we disrespect ourselves, forgetting the true value of life. Every time we rape our daughters and sons or steal from our grandmothers, we disrespect the soul of the great Martin Luther King Jr.
Every time we accept drugs as a way to cope with life we shame Malcolm X and we destroy our minds. Every time we leave our children to raise themselves we disrespect Sojourner Truth. When we drop out of school, we disrespect Vivian Malone Jones, the first Black graduate of the University of Alabama.
So I wonder who will replace such a strong role model as Parks, and the answer is no one — for she will always be set apart, special in her own way, and her name will never be forgotten. Parks was one woman who inspired thousands of people to come together and demanded change — and it worked.
She fought back with grace, inner strength and faith. Because of her actions and the actions of others, victory was passed down to us all. So I urge you to respect the cause.
Journalist and poet Landra Glover, a Columbia University graduate, lives in Laurel, Md.