I’m quite sure everyone knows Martin Luther King, Jr. And his accomplishments. I’m not going to go into a long winded autobiographical analysis of his life and tragic assassination. I’m not going to speak for him. I will let him speak for himself. His incredible ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever read, and is directly the reason why I’ve ultimately rejected the wishy-washy philosophy of ‘moderation’. When injustice abounds, moderation is simply an enabling force.
The part which spoke to me the most was this one: Follow me after the jump...
The first thing that has to be said is that I’m a huge fan of Gothic literature, and Frankenstein is and always will remain one of my favourite novels. I’ve read it at least three times, and each time I’ve discovered something new, something unexpected, and I’ve come to appreciate it a little more each time. She is directly responsible for my love of the genre and Frankenstein along with Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a novel which I could discuss endlessly.
Like her novel, she is a bit misunderstood and history has somewhat simplified her. She was much more complex than it would seem, and her literary output did not begin and end with Frankenstein. Mary Shelley lived in a time when society tried to deny her her full humanity, but she never succumbed. A common theme about the lives of all these heroes is that they lived during a time when they were not given the option of being fully human. Society attempted to deny them greatness, but nonetheless, they found it for themselves. She could have written under a pen name, but she refused to and she wrote a remarkable novel in what was once considered a man’s domain. It’s a timeless story and her creation of the iconic characters of Victor Frankenstein and the monster alone make her worthy of all the praise she received.In addition, I interpret it as not just a Gothic novel, but also a dazzling work of Science Fiction and in particular, the multi-layered nature of it is something I’ve always appreciated. It’s such a well-formed, brilliantly written novel, and to think, she started writing it at the tender age of 18.
I dug deeper and discovered her other literary works and they are no less fascinating. In particular her apocalyptic novel ‘The Last man’ is especially interesting. She lived a literary life and in a time when women were endlessly shackled, she lived her life as she pleased and she was significant both an an author and for her political voice as a liberal woman in a conservative, man’s world.
There are some people that I’ve always known. I couldn’t even really tell you exactly when I first heard of them. As far as I can remember, I’ve always known and admired Rosa Parks. Growing up, I have the fondest memories of visiting my grandparents during summer vacations. What I loved most was their extensive library. I can still remember the slightly musty smell, the rigid spines and how amazing it would feel to crack open a new book. The shelves were filled with amazing tales of great heroes, warriors, myths, and legends. Even at my young age, something about Rosa Park’s story was captivating. It would have been captivating enough if it were fiction, but the fact that it happened, and not that far ago in time, makes it more remarkable.
To be considered a second-class citizen in a country of your birth must be a terrible feeling. The long, sordid history of segregation, particularly in public transportation in many parts of the US is known. History cannot soften the sharp edges of Jim Crow and history cannot deny the quiet dignity of the multitude of people who opposed it.
Rosa Park’s Quiet dignity in a lot of ways made her an ideal challenger to the bus segregation laws of that time. To face second-class treatment, year after year and yet maintain such an air of calm serenity is something few can manage. She was not the first to refuse to give up her seat, but her biography and her personality made her uniquely qualified to be the face of the movement that resisted the system. An evil system needs multitudes of ‘ordinary’ people to go along with it passively; the bus drivers who asked the Black passengers to move, the White passengers who snatched the ill-gotten relief from having to stand, everyone was responsible. As well, resistance needs a few good people who are tired of giving in, and a few others to stand with them. Sometimes something as simple as sitting down can be the most radical act of all and civil disobedience is a powerful thing.Her act of public defiance spawned the Montgomery Bus Boycott and made her an international icon of resistance to Jim Crow. She received a multitude of honours and upon her death in 2005, she became the first woman to be laid in honour at the US Capitol Rotunda. Her autobiography, ‘My Story’ makes for a gripping, fascinating read and I highly recommend it. It shows that her work in the civil rights movement didn’t end after that fateful day, but continued with the quiet efficiency and calm serenity that was her way. May her soul forever rest in peace.
She is a reminder to me everyday to never allow myself to be relegated to the back, be it a bus or in life.
People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day...No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.