Rosa Parks: passing the liberal torch

Rosa Parks was an American hero. She stood up for equal rights for black Americans, even before it was popular. She put herself in harm’s way and went to jail for her beliefs. She helped fuel the brushfire that would explode and engulf the streets of America – and the hearts of Americans. She is a symbol of freedom, a symbol of social justice.

Now, many people in America miss not only Mrs. Parks, but what she stood for. We miss that fighting spirit, that passionate desire for justice, that righteous fire. I think it’s time to bring some of that back.

Things have certainly changed in 50-odd years, but many old scars remain. Economic justice is but a dream in America. Millions of children, disproportionately black, wake up each morning in neighborhoods filled with violence, drugs, garbage on the streets and struggling industries. They go to schools where there aren’t enough textbooks or desks, where the teachers get paid little more than janitors. Millions of other children wake up in pristine upper-class neighborhoods. They go to well-maintained schools. With few exceptions, most children in American are either part of one America or the other. Segregation has arguably become worse for the past 50 years.

We are now involved in a quagmire in Iraq which has already claimed more than 2,000 brave Americans and injured almost 20,000 more. We are there because our president, once again, lied and misled us. We have a president, once again, who when asked how he is going to win cites ideological dogma that, for all its nice words, doesn’t bring a single American home. We have a president, once again, who refuses to correct the mistakes of the past, and who stubbornly insists on “staying the course” – words that could have been taken right from 1969 – even when it is obvious that the course isn’t working.

There is a reason why Howard Dean’s campaign raised so much money from ordinary Americans early in 2004. There is a reason why Paul Hackett, a Democrat and ex-marine who ran on a blatant anti-war message in a county in Ohio that backed Bush by 64 percent in 2004, came just 4,000 votes short of winning back a congressional seat that’s been held by Republicans for 40 years. And there is a reason why so many Americans feel aggravated and sick of the direction Bush and radical Republicans have taken us in the past 25 years.

It is because we live in a time of social injustice, where a corrupt government is bankrupting our country of dollars and of hope. I say it’s time for ordinary Americans to rise as we have always risen when needed, to take our country back. Rosa Parks may have passed on, but what she stood for sure as hell hasn’t.

Matthew Civiletti

TCNJ College Democrats