Posts Tagged ‘Rosa Parks’
Most everyone knows Rosa Parks whose courageous action of not giving up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus to a white passenger on December 1, 1955, helped launch the civil rights movement. Most people do not know Claudette Colvin who also refused to give up her seat on the bus — nine months before Rosa Parks.
On March 2, 1955, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin remained seated when a white passenger boarded the bus and waited for her to move. She believed it her constitutional right to sit wherever she chose even though Jim Crow laws of the day dictated otherwise. She was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Claudette would later say, “I couldn’t get up that day. History kept me stuck to my seat. I felt the hand of Harriet Tubman pushing down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth pushing down on the other.”
Claudette Colvin’s arrest provided the spark needed to make a stand and provide a test case to end segregation on city buses. However, local African-American leadership thought otherwise. They believed Claudette would be perceived as too militant. Her image was not the one the movement wanted to cast. When she became pregnant a few months later, their belief was reinforced. Instead, Rosa Parks’ similar act of defiance would hasten the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott and lay the foundation for the modern civil rights movement.
Not until many years later would Claudette Colvin become more than just a footnote in history. Her role is not celebrated, but it is nonetheless pivotal. In a recent honor, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange called her “an early foot soldier in our civil rights.” Claudette Colvin stands alongside Rosa Parks — two women, two generations — taking a stand and helping to change history.
In June of last year, the Obama administration announced that, in the year 2020, a woman will grace the front of the $10 bill. The redesign and unveiling will be in celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States.
The question is…who will it be?
There are two requirements: the woman must be deceased, and she must exemplify the theme of “Democracy.”
There are many women who have deeply impacted this country and its history, and who fill the two above criteria. Selecting one woman to fill this extraordinarily symbolic role will be challenging. Which historic achievement will be highlighted, and which female innovator will be featured?
The Treasury Department has asked for help in the selection process. It launched a website, https://www.thenew10.treasury.gov/, that provides details of “the new 10” and has created a public discussion via the use of social media and #TheNew10 hashtag.
So let’s discuss. It is Women’s History Month, after all.
Perhaps, because the new $10 bill will be revealed on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, a woman who was integral to women’s suffrage will be chosen. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were both prominent leaders of the movement, cofounding the National Woman Suffrage Organization and working tirelessly for a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. They contributed to the writing of The History of Woman Suffrage and were both passionate abolitionists. Anthony, however, has already appeared on U.S. currency: her portrait was featured on the $1 coin from 1979 to 1981.
Sacajawea already appears on the dollar coin (which is no longer in general circulation), but she deserves consideration. A Shoshone Native American, Sacajawea served as the interpreter for Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their 8,000-mile journey into the American West and to the Pacific Ocean. She was integral to their travels, and thus to the information and research that the explorers shared with the world.
The era of slavery is a dark one in American history but gave rise to extraordinarily strong and brave African American men and women who helped transform this country. Harriet Tubman, known as “the Moses of her people,” escaped slavery and was determined to help others do the same. She travelled the Underground Railroad many times after her escape, leading more than 300 slaves to freedom. Sojourner Truth also escaped slavery. She became a strident abolitionist and was the first female African American orator to protest slavery. Her speeches inspired people throughout the Northern and Midwestern states.
What about First Ladies? Some have affected noble and lasting changes, both politically and socially. Two come to mind: Abigail Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt. Adams was the nation’s second First Lady, wife of President John Adams. She never held political office, but took an active role in politics and national matters (including the Revolutionary War), was an early supporter of women’s rights, and had great influence on her husband. Her letters to him are full of her insightful observations. More than a century later, Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt exerted tremendous political and cultural influence in her position as First Lady. She was an extremely vocal advocate for social causes, spreading her message by holding press conferences, hosting a radio show, and writing a daily newspaper column. Known as an activist for the rights of women, African Americans, and immigrants, she influenced her husband to embrace the civil rights agenda. Her humanitarian career continued after she left the White House: she served as a U.N. delegate for seven years and headed the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.
The Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century gave rise to many female activists. One, in particular, changed the national conversation about civil rights by taking a stand and sitting on a bus. Rosa Parks made a transformative decision on December 1, 1955. She violated Alabama’s bus segregation laws and refused to give her seat to a white man and was arrested. Considered the mother of the Civil Rights Movement, her act of courage inspired the Montgomery bus boycott and roused activists to nonviolent action across the country.
What about Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut in space? Or Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator who successfully completed a transatlantic flight? Or Margaret Sanger, who crusaded for women’s reproductive rights? Or Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross?
So whose face will grace the new 10? Do you have an opinion? If so, make your voice heard–whether it be to the Treasury Department, in the classroom, in the lunchroom, or around the dinner table. Each inspirational woman mentioned above, and all who will be considered for this tribute of currency portraiture, had strong voices and opinions that changed the world.
Learn more about these women, and find out details of the new 10, on SIRS Knowledge Source and SIRS Discoverer. While you’re there, check out the March SKS Spotlight of the Month on Women’s History Month.
Sixty years ago today, on Dec 1, 1955, an African American woman named Rosa Parks was arrested on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her crime? Refusing to surrender her seat to a white man.
Her arrest as a result of this incident sparked a 381-day boycott of Montgomery buses by African Americans.
Even before the incident, Rosa Parks was an activist for civil rights, influenced by her husband, Raymond, and her grandfather. But her courageous stance on that bus in 1955 cemented her legacy as being the “mother of the civil rights movement.”
eLibrary has an abundance of information on this and other historic events in the civil rights movement, including these: