On Refusing to Cooperate with Evil

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. offers up a wonderful homage to the late civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. In the excerpt that follows, her pays great tribute to a great person, but there is more: Pitts answers the question of why there are progressives who can not stand with the Democratic Party in its present form. It can be summed up in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote Pitts uses to open this beautiful column:

“Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as cooperation with good.”

I, for one, will not cooperate with a system or political party that dehumanizes me or anyone else. (And yes, I am talking about the Dems’ unwillingness to stand for equality for all — including GLBT people — under law.) How about you?

The lessons, myths, reality of Rosa Parks

Her feet were not tired. At least, no more so than usual.

She always hated that leg end so let us, in this, the week of her death at age 92, set the record straight. And while we’re at it, let’s correct another misconception: It’s not precisely true that she refused to give up her seat to a white man. The seats next to her and across the aisle were empty, vacated by black people who had already heeded the bus driver’s command to get up. So there were places for the white man to sit.

But under the segregation statutes of Montgomery, Ala., no white man was expected to suffer the indignity of sitting next to a black woman or even across from her. So driver J.F. Blake asked again. And Rosa Parks, this soft-spoken 42-year-old department store seamstress just trying to get home from work, gave him her answer again. She told him no.

Her feet were not tired. Her soul was exhausted. …

On Dec. 1, it will be 50 years since that drama played out in Court Square. Fifty years since police took her away. Fifty years since black Montgomery protested by boycotting the buses. Fifty years since community leaders tapped as their leader the new preacher at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Martin Luther King Jr.

That moment in Court Square was the birthplace of the 13-year epoch called the Civil Rights Movement. You could make a compelling argument that it was also a birthplace of the modern world.

None of which Rosa Parks could have foreseen that December evening half a century ago. All she knew was that she was tired, sick of acquiescing, accommodating, accepting foolish white laws and white people who said she wasn’t good enough to occupy a bus seat. Something had gotten into her that wouldn’t let her go along any more, something that turned a lifetime of yes into an electric moment of no.

Remember Margaret Mead’s words: We can spark change. But only if we are willing to excel, if we are willing to make the hard choices, if we are willing to say no to those who are wrong.

I implore you to read the entire column, which goes on to address how pigmentationism still affects brown-colored Americans adversely — and notes correctly that an even more sinister force, one borne of racism, is at work.

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