Take A Stand, Sitting Down – Rosa Parks

Take A Stand, Sitting Down – Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks, an Alabamian, is known as "the mother of the civil rights movement." Her arrest in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white man became a rallying point for Alabama's emerging civil rights movement.

Anjali Krishnan

Every act of defiance threatens and chips away at injustice irrespective of how long it has prevailed.

One such incident that changed the course of American civil society was the day Ms. Rosa Louise McCauley Parks refused the bus driver's demand that she vacate her seat in the 'colored' section of the bus for a white passenger. It was the 1st of December 1955, and it happened in the Deep South, specifically in downtown Montgomery, Alabama.  

Rosa Parks being fingerprinted by Deputy Sheriff D.H. Lackey after being arrested on February 22, 1956, during the Montgomery bus boycott.
Rosa Parks being fingerprinted by Deputy Sheriff D.H. Lackey after being arrested on February 22, 1956, during the Montgomery bus boycott.

That was the era of racial segregation. People of color, or Blacks, had restricted access to or were banned from facilities, services, and institutions. An American's skin color decided the area of residence, the standard of medical care, the avenues for education, opportunities for employment, and access to transportation. And back then, it was the law of the land.  

"Stand for something, or you will fall for anything. Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that held its ground."

Though Ms. Parks is best remembered for setting off the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the fact is that she was involved in the Civil Rights Movement much before then. A decade before her famous 'sit in' on the bus, she had an altercation with the same bus driver, James Blake, for entering through the front door instead of the back one designated for colored people.

Besides working as a seamstress, she was the secretary of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a youth advisor of the organization.

Ms. Parks was not the first to challenge the prevailing status quo. But, she became the face of resistance, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People saw her as "the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience in violating Alabama segregation laws." Her act of defiance led to the Montgomery bus boycott for over a year and ultimately to the federal court ruling that segregation in buses was unconstitutional.  

Bringing about change is a process fraught with strife and tension. Ms. Parks and her husband paid the price for her activism. They were fired from their jobs. She was impudently harassed and received numerous death threats resulting in her decision to leave the state with her husband and mother. Undeterred, "the first lady of the civil rights movement" continued to speak against injustice and fight for equal rights for all citizens.

Rosa Parks and others picketing in front of General Motors corporate headquarters, Detroit, Michigan (1986).  Courtesy Library of Congress.
Rosa Parks and others picketing in front of General Motors corporate headquarters, Detroit, Michigan (1986).

"I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom."

Throughout her life, Ms. Parks brought focus to vital and meaningful issues that plagued American society. After her move to Detroit, she was passionately involved in the fight against police brutality and housing discrimination. She took up the cause of political prisoners in the United States, who faced criminal prosecution. She founded the Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation for college-bound high school seniors and made it accessible to all students.

Rosa Parks Honored with Alabama Statue 64 Years After Bus Protest
Rosa Parks Honored with Alabama Statue 64 Years After Bus Protest

Ms. Parks was awarded the highest honor a civilian can receive in the United States, the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Feted numerous times by various organizations and the government, Ms. Rosa Parks had hardly any material wealth to show for a life spent dedicated to bringing justice and equal rights to all those around her.

She's quoted as saying, "I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free ... so other people would be also free."


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TIPP Takes

Taliban Begin Entering Afghan Capital Kabul From All Sides After Seizing City Of Jalalabad

A US Chinook helicopter flies over Kabul.
A US Chinook helicopter flies over Kabul.

Taliban insurgents have entered Afghanistan's capital Kabul, prompting the U.S. to evacuate diplomats from its embassy by helicopter.

A senior official told Reuters that the Taliban were approaching from "all sides" but provided no further information.  There were no reports of violence.

According to an Afghan official, forces at the Bagram airbase, which houses a prison with 5,000 inmates, have surrendered to the Taliban.  The prison housed both Taliban and Islamic State fighters.


Cambodian Dam Project Ignored Economic, Social, Cultural Rights, Report Says

Sesan 2 dam

Human Rights Watch documents how governments and companies involved in the Lower Sesan 2 Dam dismissed the concerns of affected people.

The Sesan 2 dam is part of China's "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI), Beijing's worldwide infrastructure plan that it says aims to enhance regional connectivity, but which critics say could saddle poorer nations with long-term debt.

The Lower Sesan 2 dam, one of Asia's widest, created a flood basin in Stung Treng province, out of the convergence of the Sesan and Srepok Rivers in, both tributaries of Southeast Asia's mightiest river, the Mekong.

In the process, nearly 5,000 people who had lived near the dam site for several generations were relocated.

According to the report, the dam's developer and Cambodia's government were aware that they were ignoring the concerns of the affected residents, even pressuring them to accept compensation packages that were lower than they should have been and offering them inadequate housing and services at resettlement zones.


N. Korea Envoy To China Calls U.S. "Common Threat" To Both

N. Korea Envoy To China Calls U.S. "Common Threat" To Both

North Korean Ambassador to China Ri Ryong Nam called the United States a "common threat" to the two countries, adding that Pyongyang and Beijing should work together to respond to it, the Global Times reported Saturday.

In an interview with the tabloid of the Chinese Communist Party, Ri criticized Washington for conducting military drills across East Asia, including those with South Korea.


Autocorrect Errors In Excel Still Creating Genomics Headache

Autocorrect Errors In Excel Still Creating Genomics Headache
Excel Problems

Despite geneticists being warned about spreadsheet problems, 30% of published papers contain mangled gene names in supplementary data.

Embarrassing autocorrect mistakes are common fodder for Internet listicles and Twitter threads. But they are also the bane of geneticists using spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel.

The long-standing issue often occurs when the abbreviated form of a gene's name — known as a gene symbol — is incorrectly recognized as a date and autocorrected as such by Excel or Google Sheets. For example, SEPT4(septin 4) and MARCH1 (membrane-associated ring-CH-type finger 1) will be automatically changed to 4-Sep and 1-Mar.

Auto correct problem

"It can have a significant impact on your research," says molecular biologist Auriol Purdie at the University of Sydney in Australia. Having worked with gene-microarray and gene-transcription data sets for two decades, Purdie is familiar with the inadvertent errors. But she says the problem frequently catches out beginners.

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