Rosa Parks’ courage echoes still today

Business, government, education, communities, and families need competent leaders and positive role models. Some individuals aspire to be leaders and seek opportunities to develop the attributes, knowledge, and skills they require.

Others seize an opportunity to be a great leader when the situation arises-unplanned but a “decision window” which makes a difference for many. This case study investigates leadership from various perspectives. Illustrates how a crisis can bring out the best in a person and analyzes the important role that followers play in creating leaders.

How is leadership potential developed? In today’s society, what are the characteristics that define a leader – academic achievement, personal integrity, physical vigor, proactive responsibility, creative problem-solving? The United States and the World will continue to need people who can provide solutions, motivate followers and create a better place to live and work. Leadership education can benefit from exploring past and current leaders.

Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel, stated in an editorial back in 2005: “Rosa Parks was living proof that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary acts that can change the course of history. A half-century ago, Parks, then a seamstress in Montgomery, Ala., was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man.

Her courageous act triggered a 381-day black boycott of the bus system and ignited the modern civil-rights movement. … Parks died on October 24, 2005, in Detroit, Mich. at 92. The memory of her defiance and dignity in the face of discrimination lives on as an inspiration for all who battle injustice.” The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, S.C., wrote back then in an editorial: “True leadership is not easy. … And Rosa Parks taught us leadership can emerge from nowhere. … Let us hope the Rosa Parks story is among those told in classes on leadership.” But there were more contributions:

The Daily Telegram, Adrian, Mich., wrote in an editorial: “America has made great strides … but we cannot afford to assume that racial inequality has been vanquished. For example, school segregation is no longer written into our laws, but de facto segregation still exists in many school districts across the nation. And while America’s social atmosphere has improved, events such as the recent Nazi march in Toledo and cross burnings in the suburbs of Detroit serve as a chilling reminder that bigotry is not just a thing of the past. … As we remember Rosa Parks, we should celebrate the progress that has been made in the past 50 years — but we should not lose sight of the progress still to be achieved.”

Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News, stated in an editorial: “The real beauty of Parks’ role in history is that she did all this without bombast or bluster. She didn’t offer soaring rhetoric. … Parks became the very symbol of a movement without shouting above the din. We all know about how ‘actions speak more loudly than words.’ Rosa Parks defined that truism for us.”

Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader, edited this editorial: “As we honor Parks, we should remember a part of her life that is sometimes overlooked: The years of activism and dutiful organizing that readied her for that historic moment when she kept her seat under threat of arrest. … Her indelible mark on history comes from the kind of courage that enables a person to dedicate a lifetime of days to working — against the odds with little pay or glory — for what she knows is right.”

San Antonio Express-News wrote: “Rosa Parks embodied a sublime irony: By remaining seated, she stood up for her rights. She proved that, sometimes, the greatest action is inaction.”

Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, in an editorial: “The combination of her dignified style and her diminutive size made her the perfect icon to represent the persecution of black people. She was tired when she kept her seat on that bus, all right — tired of having to endure the torturous insults and everyday indignities of being black in America.”

Christian Science Monitor, Boston, in an editorial: “Around the world, her story has inspired others fighting oppression. When a single Chinese student faced off with a tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989, Nelson Mandela called it ‘a Rosa Parks moment.'”

Oshkosh (Wis.) Northwestern, in an editorial: “Rosa Parks proved by example the power of personal influence. … In Rosa Parks, we all see that we have the power to make a difference.”

Dale McFeatters, for Scripps Howard News Service, stated in 2005: “America’s most famous bus passenger has died at age 92. … Today’s generation, which may see her death as of passing interest, largely finds it inconceivable that Americans once lived under a state-enforced system of racial segregation. It’s ancient history. For that we thank you, Rosa Parks.” Her memory and courage echo still today…