The Difference is One – Rosa Parks, the tired woman who sat down to stand up


“We are all writing the story of our life. We want to know what it’s “about,” what are its themes and which theme is on the rise. We demand of it something deeper, or richer or more substantive. We want to know where we’re headed – not to spoil our own ending by ruining the surprise, but we want to ensure that when the ending comes, it won’t be shallow. We will have done something. We will not have squandered our time here.”. Po Bronson

What is the story of your life? A question that throws up many more questions, There are three types of individuals in the world – those who do not care how they leave it, those who contemplate how they could make a difference in their family, their community or their world – or those who want to make a difference, and start right where they are!

Whether or not you realise it, whatever you are doing, whatever sort of relationships you have, wherever you live, work, shop, play – you are already having an impact on those around you. So choose to have a positive impact! Start where you are, and start acting – in your family, your workplace, your community –your world. Those we see as role models or heroes (such as Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr, Oprah Winfrey, Bob Geldof, Churchill and Esther Rantzen) were always very human, and usually anything but saintly, and that should inspire us to DO something, because all change starts somewhere.

Today is the 100th anniversary of Rosa Parks birth. Like the others on this list, they are all heroes of mine. All of them made an impact that changed history, and not usually through any big, carefully planned event but through taking the next step. It was Rosa’s sense of injustice, and other acts of injustice prior to that day in 1955 which led her to refuse to move off that bus and ultimately get called the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” Her life was less than totally easy, as her family was abandoned by their father and ended up moving in with her grandparents as they were ill. Though very young, Rosa still ended up doing the housework for the home while trying to study at the one-room building with no windows, books or even desks that served as her school. Eventually, she would end up in Montgomery to continue her education, a place where activists were boycotting buses after deciding the time had come to end the discrimination shown to them (when they had to move to the back of the bus if a white person got on). The activists really needed someone to be arrested, to ensure the matter went to court for a resolution. Initially, this was a young girl called Claudette Colvin, until they found out she was pregnant. Unaware of these plans, Roas – an educated woman who happened to be working as a seamstress as she couldn’t find an appropriate job, simply had enough one day, and refused to move. She was duly arrested, and became the test case because something just snapped in her that day; and in her autobiography, she said “the only tired I was, was tired of giving in”. The activists asked a minister to help them. His name was Martin Luther King Jr – and the rest is history. He was to go on to say:

There comes a time that people get tired. We are here this evening to say to those who have mistreated us so long that we are tired–tired of being segregated and humiliated; tired of being kicked about by the brutal feet of oppression.. . For many years we have shown amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we like the way we are being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice. One of the great glories of democracy is the right to protest for right. . . If you will protest courageously and yet with dignity and Christian love, when the history books are written in future generation the historians will pause and say, “There lived a great people a black people who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.” That is our challenge and our overwhelming responsibility