Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A touching moment

This past Monday, our family was visiting the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan. If you have the chance to go, this is a wonderful place filled with extremely interesting and important artifacts. I had never heard of this museum until a while ago and I am glad that we took the time to experience it.

One artifact in particular caused me to pause and reflect, and hopefully, it did for my daughter too.

The Rosa Parks bus is stored in this museum, along with pictures and other objects of racial segregation, such as drinking fountains with the words "white" and "colored". I had heard of these things but never actually saw any in person and it made me shiver to think this was actually all too real...

Then we boarded the Rosa Parks bus. An adorable little African-American girl was already sitting in the bus by herself. The guide of the exhibit points out that she is actually sitting at the exact spot where Rosa Parks sat to stage her protest. This little girl had obviously done her homework! I asked her if it was okay if I took a picture of her and my daughter beside her, to which she agreed. As I took the picture, I had a lump in my throat looking at these two young girls, black and white, happily sitting together on this famous bench and what this symbolized. Rosa Parks, I sensed, would have been pleased.

A if this wasn't an already powerful enough moment, the little girl's Mom then climbed in the bus and smiled when she saw where her daughter was sitting. She quickly proceeded to take her picture. I told the mom that I took a picture of her with my daughter and that I hoped she didn't mind, which she didn't. The mom then sat beside me and proceeded to tell me that Rosa Parks was actually her neighbour for years in Detroit! Rosa Parks actually knew the little girl on the bench! I had chills. What a serendipitous moment! She told me what a lovely, quiet, unassuming lady Mrs. Parks was. And when you see pictures of her, that's exactly what radiates from her: quiet dignity.

Good for you, Rosa Parks, for fighting to solve problems in a calm, pacific, non violent manner. Good for you for having the courage to stand up, or in this case, sit down, for your convictions, for your rights and for the rights of others. You are on my list of heroes and I suspect, on my daughter's as well...