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A Woman I Admire Writing Competition Spring 2018

Rosa Parks
Jack James Arnott-Taylor
Highly Commended

Rosa Parks is a woman well known for her strength, courage, and independence. Her most famous act, still taught in history classrooms worldwide today, displayed her dedication to her cause and her tremendous bravery in the face of adversity from almost an entire race of people. She faced opposition from the government and opposition from the average citizen in the streets, yet despite all that she faced, continued to champion her cause into her old age.

Rosa Parks' life began in Alabama, the child of a teacher and a carpenter, and the granddaughter of a Native American slave. Her battles for civil rights began in 1943 when Rosa (now married to NAACP activist Raymond Parks) joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. Her job required her to take the bus to work, although she would avoid this as often as possible as buses were segregated along racial lines at that time. If she did board the bus, she would be forced to sit at the back and even give up her seat if a white person needed it. In 1955, her frustration with this system came to a boiling point when the bus filled up and several whites came to the back asking blacks to vacate their seats. Rosa decided that she would not get up, and here she made history.

“Y'all better make it light on yourselves at let me have those seats,” came the voice of the bus driver. “Let me have these seats.’ Yet Rosa would not budge and stayed sat down while others nearby got up. “Why don't you stand up?” the bus driver asked.

“I don't think I should have to stand up,” replied Rosa.

“Are you going to stand up?” the driver demanded.

“No, I'm not.”

“Well, if you don't stand up I'm going to call the police and have you arrested.”

“You may do that,” Rosa responded calmly. At this, the driver called the police. Rosa realised that she had met the driver before: when she had come through the front entrance of his bus, he told her to get off and board through the back but had driven away as soon as she stepped off the bus. Soon, the police came and dragged her off the bus.

“Why do you push us around?” Rosa asked the police officer as she was pulled away.

“I don't know, but the law's the law, and you're under arrest.” The officer responded, and she was sent to jail. She was bailed out by her boss, and the story gained national attention. In response, the Black Civil Rights movement called for a national bus boycott to show solidarity with Rosa and support her bravery. The boycott eventually ended, but Rosa would spend the rest of her years travelling the country and challenging segregation. Rosa Parks thankfully outlived segregation, dying at the ripe old age of 92, and today she remains a figure of bravery, standing up (metaphorically) for her beliefs while all the world stood against her.

Jack James Arnott-Taylor © 2018