Bates community gathers to honor Rosa Parks

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Professor of Political Science Leslie Hill

In honor of Rosa Parks’ legacy of leadership and life contributions to the struggle for civil and human rights, the Martin Luther King Day Committee and the Multicultural Center of Bates College held a program in memoriam and appreciation from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, in the Benjamin Mays Center.

Parks’ refusal on Dec. 1, 1955,  to obey the laws requiring segregated seating on public buses in Montgomery, Ala., was part of a systematic pattern of resistance by African American women. Her subsequent arrest, booking and imprisonment sparked the community-wide organizing of, and participation in, the Montgomery Bus Boycott that projected Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into the national and international spotlight.

The theme of the committee’s memorial program, “I Was Tired of Discrimination,” is taken from Parks’ comment that her resistance to giving up her seat to a white passenger on that fateful day in December was not a matter of her being physically tired from her daily work, but due to her exhaustion from being treated as a second-class citizen.

“Fifty years ago, her courageous act of civil disobedience asked America to be faithful to its promises to all its citizens,” said Bates President Elaine Tuttle Hansen in an e-mail message sent to the Bates community earlier this week. To join in the nation’s memorial, the Bates flag flew at half-staff on Wednesday.

Leanne Cunningham '08

Members of all sectors of the Bates and Lewiston community were invited to offer their comments, perspectives and eulogies to Parks, and all contributed to a program that included prayer,original essays and poetry, as well as music and  a slide show of images from Parks’ life.

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