Rosa Parks was not the first woman to refuse to give up her seat on a bus for a white person. I know, I didn’t know this either. It’s not our fault. Claudette Colvin had done the same nine months before. She was not considered by African American civil rights leaders to be a suitable symbol for the campaign against segregationist legislation. She was too young (she was fifteen), perceived to be too fiesty and too emotional, and too working class to be an appropriate figurehead to inspire revolution among her fellow African American residents of Montgomery, Alabama. She suffered more at the hands of the police than Ms. Parks (Colvin was jailed, among other things), more scorn from her neighbours and supposed friends than Ms. Parks, and yet she’s been conveniently forgotten by the press, the historians and the public.
In my quest to read something by a present day Barbadian author, I came across this free read by Margaret Sisu. Few can write a decent short story with a satisfying ending. Sisu delivered the goods, providing a commentary on 1950s African American life and the hypocrisy of clergymen – the evil done by supposedly ‘good’ men. I’m pleased to say that there’s none of that white-man-hates-on-black-man trope here. (Huh. I think the only other majority black cast fiction I’ve read without this trope is Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.)
I am the product of MLK’s “dream” as the daughter of a black mother and white father. Who knows, I might not be here if people like him hadn’t fought for racial equality and against segregation.
Brilliant free BBC audio of “I Have A Dream” read by Maya Angelou, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Ndileka Mandela (granddaughter of Nelson Mandela), Stevie Wonder, Doreen Lawrence (mother of murdered British teenager Stephen Lawrence), Malala Yousafzai (sixteen-year-old student from Swat in Pakistan, shot by the Taliban for going to school), and a few others.