December 1, 1955, The United States was catapulted into the movement that became the Civil Rights Movement. One simple, yet effective act of protest led a race of people to band together and demand change. The Montgomery Bus Boycott began as quietly as a morning sunrise.
The ripples of that monumental event were far reaching from one end of the country to the other. One day a beautiful brown, woman sat down for the ride home from work, and when a white bus rider demanded she give up her seat up, she refused. The Montgomery Bus Boycott is one of the few events in modern day history that has been taught in schools through the United States. It would seem that the simple act of a football player to remain seated during the national anthem in protest to some of the very same things Ms. Rosa sat in protest of would give this country food for thought.
Had we all forgotten what life was like for Black people pre-civil rights movement? Like a slow moving replay of Deja Vu, haven’t we seen this somewhere before? Had the fact that Ms. Parks’ name become synonymous with the civil rights movement been for naught?
For an entire year, black people walked, rode bicycles, and carpooled to protest the treatment of black people during that tumultuous time. For her troubles, Ms. Parks paid a fine of $10.00 and $4.00 in court cost after spending the night in jail. All because she refused to relinquish her seat to a white man who demanded she move to another seat – that would be, a seat designated for black people at the back of the bus.
However, Ms. Parks was not the first and only one to do so. March 2, 1955, Claudette Colvin, another pioneer in the Civil Rights Movement took a seat on a bus in Montgomery Alabama. At the time, Ms. Colvin was a student at Booker T. Washington High School and she relied on the bus to get to and from school. Again the simple act of taking a seat in protest had a profound effect in our country. By the time Ms. Rosa had made that decision to stay seated the stage had been set. Fast forward 50 years, what many have once described as courageous and peaceful is now being called ungrateful and disrespectful.
Enter, Colin Kaepernick
August 2016, Colin Kaepernick a football player for the San Franciso 49ers remained seated during the national anthem in protest of the treatment of African-Americans in this country. Every vile, hateful, racist comment that could be made was spewed through various media outlets. There were calls for Mr. Kaepernick to leave the country for having the nerve to exercise his right to protest. How dare a Black Man who makes millions be so ungrateful, how dare he take a stand against social injustice. Shouldn’t the millions in his bank account assure him that he would never have to experience the systemic racism that still exists in this country?
Unfortunately, the outcry of anger in Kaepernick’s actions are a resounding confirmation that he is not exempt. Mr. Kaepernick was called everything but a child of God and was even chastised by several of his colleagues who are themselves, African-American. I am certain that Ms. Colvin and Ms. Parks experienced the same threats and attacks of hatred and racism much like Mr. Kaepernick. There is an old adage that history often repeats itself. I’m sure the leaders, fighters, and supporters of the Civil Rights Movement would be greatly saddened by the response of people who deem themselves forward-thinking, open-minded patriots. The angry, baseless outcry would prove it all a great big lie! You want to see the ugly truth of how pervasive racism still is in this country. Be sure to do what Colin Kaepernick did – and others have done before him – and, take a seat.