"The only tired I was, was tired of giving in."
– Rosa Parks
It was about 60 years ago that Rosa Parks made history by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. Her courage and tenacity sparked a transportation boycott in the South and lent new strength to a burgeoning movement for civil rights. If Rosa Parks were still alive, she would have turned 103 today.
As we look back this month at the many champions of the civil rights movement who helped to tear down the walls of racial oppression, we can’t help but wonder what they would think of today’s society. Movements like Black Lives Matter, the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans, and economic divides based on race show that there is still much work to be done.
The civil rights movement laid the foundation for racial equality in America, but it is up to us to carry on the dream of a society that lives up to its full potential of respect for all humanity. When we ignore injustice, we enable it to continue. Rosa Parks realized that she could no longer accept a system of segregation and hate and became a trailblazer for justice. To follow in her footsteps, we too must commit to right the wrongs of our society.
We must continue to fight against the attacks on workers’ rights, stand up for an economy that works for all, and never relent in our quest for social and human justice. Therefore, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO is proud to honor Black History month not only as a reminder of past struggles, but to reawaken in ourselves the strength and courage that it takes to change a nation.