Racism and prejudice have been dominant issues in the United States for many years.
Being such a major issue is society, racism is also a major theme in one of the best pieces of American Literature, To Kill A Mockingbird. People, particularly African Americans, have been denied basic human rights such as getting a fair trial, eating in a certain restaurant, or sitting in certain seats of public buses. However, in 1955 a woman named Rosa Parks took a stand, or more correctly took a seat, on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She refused to give her seat to a white man and was arrested for not doing so.
The reasons and consequences and the significance of her stand are comparable in many ways to Atticus Finch’s stand in To Kill A Mockingbird. Rosa Parks worked for the equality of all people. She was elected secretary of the Montgomery branch of the National Advancement of Colored People, unsuccessfully attempted to vote many times to prove her point of discrimination, and had numerous encounters with bus drivers who discriminated against blacks.
She was weary of the discrimination she faced due to the Jim Crow laws, which were laws were intended to prohibit “blackAmericans from mixing with white Americans” (“Jim Crow Laws”1). Also, due to the Jim Crow laws, blacks were required to give their seats to white passengers if there were no more empty seats. This is exactly what happened on December 1, 1955. On her way home from work, Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white man and was shortly arrested (National Women’s Hall of Fame1).
Even though she knew what the consequences were for refusing to leave her seat, she decided to take a stand against a wrong that was the norm in society. She knew that she would be arrested, yet she decided that she would try to make a change. Although her arrest would seem like she lost her battle, what followed would be her victory. Rosa Parks’s stand was so significant that she is called the mother of the civil rights movement (National Women’s Hall of Fame1). Her arrest served as a catalyst for a massive boycott for public busses. Led by Martin Luther King, for 381 days, African Americans carpooled, walked, or found other ways of transportation.
Despite the harassment everyone involved in the movement faced, the boycott continued and was extremely successful. The bus company suffered from the loss of fares, but did not desegregate its busses. In 1965, the case was brought to court, and segregation of busses was ruled unconstitutional, ” the busses were officially desegregated on December 21, 1956″ (Microsoft Corporation1) . The movement Rosa Parks started climaxed with the Civil Rights act of 1964 and the Voting Rights act of 1965. She received many tributes and awards, such as the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal in 1970 and the Martin Luther King Jr. Award in 1980( Microsoft Corporation1).
Rosa Parks’s stand is significant to our society because she showed us that one person can help so many other people by standing up for what they believe in. Rosa Parks’s stand is not very different from Atticus Finch’s stand in To Kill A Mockingbird. Their reasons for taking a stand are generally the same, they wanted to help their societies. Both knew they would face criticism and harassment, yet they still tried to make a change. Although the times were different and they were two different people, they both tried to change a backwards society. Instead of people being equal in the “land of the free”, some people were considered more superior than others.
However, when they tried, both succeeded. Maybe Rosa Parks’s stand got results more quickly, but Atticus’s stand laid the foundation for change. They also had courage for taking their stands. Atticus’s definition of courage is to know you won’t win before you start, but still start and still try ( ). Even though in the long run they both win, the direct consequences are negative.
Rosa Parks still got arrested and Atticus Finch still lost his case; they both lost before they started. Lastly, both are considered heroes in their societies. The reasons, consequences, and significance of Park’s stand are similar in many ways to Atticus Finch’s stand.
For instance Rosa Parks wanted to change the way her society thought and acted, as did Atticus Finch. Parks and Finch knew they would face many negative consequences if they took their stands, but they still did. Both stands held extreme significance in their societies.
They both took stands that most people would not have had enough courage to take. Lastly, both are considered great leaders.