In retrospect, Ms. Parks, you actually didn't do much of anything.
All you did was refuse to do something, really. Anyone could have done it. In fact, I've found that some of us even do it all the time nowadays, and there's often nothing noble or significant about their refusals at all.
But your time was different, wasn't it?
I suppose it was.
It's kind of unfair to compare your situation back in 1955 and our situation here in 2005, and say that we all could have done the same thing.
1955 and 2005... it's been 50 years, come to think of it.
I suppose that I can understand where you were coming from. You were tired. You were on the bus long before any of the other commuters showed up. You had a right to sit down and rest a little, just like any other passenger on a long ride.
Of course, things were different back in 1955. You were an African-American woman, after all. You were a Black. You were a Negro. You were whatever the contemporary analysts choose to reference. And you were obligated to give your seat to a White if required, according to the full interpretation of United States law.
Anyone could have refused to do that, just as you did. Looking back on it, I figure that most people nowadays would believe it to be a stupid law.
Strangely enough, however, no one did anything about it. Up until you came along, in fact, there had been very, very few people who chose to do what you did. Everyone just followed the law to its letter, no matter how blatant the injustice may have been. They were much like sheep, I believe.
You were simply a middle-aged woman who just wanted to rest her feet after a long day of work, and when you were arrested for it, you forced your country to ask itself some very hard questions.
Your act inspired African-Americans across the United States to boycott bus services for an extended period of time. Instead, they took cabs. They organized carpools. They walked. They showed their resistance in disobedience, in a way that did not involve acts of violence or revolution.
You caused the United States government to take one long hard look at the issue of segregation in their country. You forced them to realize that they could talk about emancipation all they wanted, but the fact remained that, a century after the Civil War, African-Americans were still not truly free.
And you encouraged an anonymous reverend to lead marches across his little parish in support of your gesture. He was a nice young man, wasn't he, that Martin Luther King? He himself is often missed.
You refused to follow what you felt wasn't right. And you changed your country for the better, because of what you did.
A single stone, as we see, can start an avalanche.