To Honor Parks, Stand Up, Demand More of America

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By Donna Britt
Friday, November 4, 2005

When it comes to activism, some of us are sitters.

Like many then-youngsters, I "experienced" the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War on TV from my living room couch. No one I knew burned a draft card or a bra. As a young adult, I've often sat as others marched for causes in which I believed.

Now I'm a columnist, someone who's paid to comment on what I observe while sitting.

As a personal and professional sitter, I've been intrigued by Rosa Parks's passing. A worldwide outpouring of grief and admiration -- not to mention her lying in honor, a privilege previously accorded no other woman -- resulted.

For sitting.

Staying in that bus seat was a dangerous act, Parks's bold response to racism's daily, soul-crunching indignities. Sitting when the likely result was being cursed, spat on or smacked -- and almost certainly jailed -- was more powerful than any shouted words or cement-slapping feet.

Sitting changed the world.

Today, sitting is something else altogether.

Some sit because it's all they can muster after meeting life's demands. Others sit because it's the best position from which to engage "Lost," friends, newspapers and/or computers. Unlike Parks, they sit not because of the day's outrages but despite them.

Many remain seated even as acts that they feel warrant howls and protestations mount:

A bitter war started in spite of most Americans' objections, based on claims of a hostile nation's weapons of mass destruction -- weapons that not only didn't exist, but that the officials who touted them knew were unlikely to exist.

A president who vacationed as one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history unfolded, decimating a venerable American city and killing almost 1,300 of its Gulf region residents -- the same president who months earlier cut short another vacation to defy a grieving husband and the medical establishment to attempt to keep one brain-damaged woman on life-support.


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© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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