I don't know Rosa Parks. I may or may not have liked her as a person, though by the accounts I've read, she was quiet and kind. She may or may not have liked me either.
But one thing I do know: her level of courage is to be admired and never forgotten. We raise statues and monuments (and rightly so) to men who show this kind of bravery in battle. And it is fitting that monuments have been raised in honor of Ms. Parks, for the same kind of bravery.
But her bravery has a bit different edge, for she had no guarantee that anything good would ever come from it. In the culture and time in which she lived, her actions (as should would have known well) might have resulted in nothing more than her death or the death of her family members. But like the soldier in combat, she knew that what she was doing was the right thing to do, even if it cost her dearly. It takes some effort to put ourselves in her place, mentally. We can't really begin to understand the threat level she faced, or the fear that one has knowing that the 'system' would not support us at crunch-time. She knew what the system was, and she knew the risks she was taking and what it could cost her.
There is a good summary of the events that made her famous over on the Gospel Coalition blog, which are there because this week would have been Ms. Park's 100th birthday.
I don't know what it was like to walk in her shoes at the time and place where she lived, but I do know that I can appreciate her courage. And I know that she deserves a place among the greatest who have sacrificed so much to make our country one where Justice can be respected. As we face political issues that threaten to throw away some of that hard-earned justice, perhaps we should look not only to Lincoln and those like him, but also to Ms. Parks and those like her. Perhaps we can get some of the courage we need from the unlikely heroes in our history.
Happy birthday, Ms. Parks.