Achievements Editor's Note Poetry

Happy 100th Birthday, Rosa! Have We Walked Far Enough Yet?

Several years ago, I wrote a poem called “Rings Around Rosa” which was published by poeticdiversity. It was inspired by the reading I did about Rosa Parks following her death and I offer it today in humble tribute to her:

Her casket the size of a child,
she lies in the Capitol rotunda
honored by a country that did not
welcome her quiet rebellion,
her reminder of what children
already know – that we are
all born free.

later, presidents and priests
sing her praises while children
retell her story on classroom stages
and millions weep gratefully in
their hearts for her life of courage.

She had no children of her own
but everyone needed her
for their mother,
from kings to country women:

She gave us faith
She gave us hope
She gave us love

and these three rings around Rosa
grew into pillars of freedom.

Sometimes it seems those pillars need to be shored up. Too many of our children live surrounded by poverty or violence. Too many of their parents struggle against discrimination and inequities of opportunity. Yet Rosa Parks inspired the people of Montgomery, Alabama to walk to work and school for 381 days. Her dedication and perseverance are sustenance for all of us.

2 replies on “Happy 100th Birthday, Rosa! Have We Walked Far Enough Yet?”

This was a lovely post about Rosa Parks. We know about her here in South Africa – or I certainly do! Our country’s apartheid past is shameful; we were so hopeful of the winds of change with the advent of Mr. Nelson Mandela in 1994; now almost 20 years later we face the same struggles of poverty and terrible violence, corruption.

I think healing a whole society will take generations. We still have a long road to walk here. Our apartheid may have been less obviously brutal but its harshness still wrought a terrible price.

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