Post written by Michele Hendrickson, SFLA’s Capital Area Regional Coordinator
On December 1st 1955, a department store seamstress inspired a revolution – without making a move! We should all be familiar with the heroic story of Rosa Parks refusing the city bus driver’s request for her to give up her seat so that a white male could sit down; however, those of us in the pro-life movement still have a lot to learn from her humble non-violent actions and some of the often overlooked details.
Rosa Parks is a personal hero of mine, not only for her “stand-up to the man by sitting down” move on the bus (which was amazing), but for her entire life’s dedication to something she believed in so strongly. Her story doesn’t start as a “tired stubborn woman returning home from work.” Far from it. In fact, she clarified in her own autobiography, “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically… No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” More than 10 years prior to her arrest on the bus, she joined her local NAACP chapter, quickly becoming the secretary. Growing up, she faced strict segregation laws for not only public transportation, but everything from schools to water fountains. Even as a little girl she watched her grandfather guard the house with a shot-gun while the Klu Klux Klan marched down their street.
For Rosa, it was personal. For us, it’s personal. We are missing brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, and classmates. We can name that friend or family member who felt like her only choice was to go through with abortion. Maybe an abortion is part of your personal past. With approximately 2,756 lives lost to abortion per day, the injustice is all around us.
Many of you reading this article may already have a clear belief that abortion is a moral wrong.
So, what now?
Attend a conference or a march? Yes, those are excellent options to further the cause and get educated. But here’s what you need to realize about what Rosa Parks started that day in 1955:
An estimated 40,000 African-American commuters who depended on the city bus for transportation to their jobs boycotted the Montgomery buses every day for over a year! Some had to walk upwards of 20 miles each day. They continued their march day in and day out facing ridicule, threats, mocking, and even more arrests until change was made at the Supreme Court level.
I don’t point this out to imply that our once-a-year few-miles-long March for Life is somehow insignificant in comparison. No, I write this just two months before we prepare to march in hopes this will weigh on your hearts now, in January, and every day after.
Take a moment to reflect on our great history, where we’ve come from, and how much further we have to go.
Own your part of it.
Own it beyond once-a-year, but every day you’re alive and breathing while 55 million others didn’t get the chance.
“I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move.”
One last over-looked fact on what was going through Rosa Parks’ mind the day she was arrested:
Just months before, a young boy named Emmett Till was brutally murdered following accusations that he “flirted” with a white woman. That woman’s husband and his brother kidnapped 14-year-old Emmett, tortured him, gouged out his eye, shot him, wrapped a cotton gin fan around his neck with barbed wire, and threw him in the river. Those men were completely acquitted and later bragged about what they had done. So, how does this relate to Rosa? This is the type of violent reaction she knew she would face, but she peaceably stood her ground anyway. Later in an interview commenting on her arrest she remarked, “I thought about Emmett Till, and I could not go back.”
That was her reality. And what about us? Unless you consider being defriended by a few followers on Facebook after sharing a Students for Life meme an “attack”, there is nothing you’re facing that is bigger than the injustice of abortion. And even so, if you knew that speaking out against the moral injustice of abortion might bring you more pain than pats on the back, would you abandon the revolution?
“The time had just come when I had been pushed as far as I could stand to be pushed, I suppose. I had decided that I would have to know, once and for all, what rights I had as a human being…”
I think the time has long since passed that we’ve been pushed far enough on this issue. We have to know, once and for all, what rights do we ALL have as human beings?
“At the time I was arrested, I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.”
Will you make this significant? Join the masses. March for life, every day that you live.
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks. (2014). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 09:56, Nov 28, 2014, from http://www.biography.com/people/rosa-parks-9433715.
Emmett Till. (2014) The Encyclopedia Britannica website. Retrieved 10:00, Nov. 28th 2014, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1005043/Emmett-Till