a woman strong – an inspired spirit – stubborn to inequality,
showing the world in 1955 that she and everyone else
who shared her skin that we did indeed belong.
She saved my life on the first day of December, two decades
before my birth, twenty-one years before my own soul
began to explore this earth. I didn’t know her, but she
refused to give in to the abuse of discrimination
any longer from the many generations to follow.
She saved my life that day in Montgomery, Alabama
because she was simply tired of standing on worn feet;
symbolized by the history of ancestors once enslaved,
there was no way – on this day- that she was giving up her seat.
She saved my life on that Cleveland Avenue city bus
because the history of her skin would no longer
allow her to be ushered to the back of the bus. She was tired
of seeing her people slain and tired of walking on unequal sidewalks
drenched in blood stains. She was tired of crying the tears
only her own fears could hear. She finally spoke up by refusing
to give up a seat she felt equally belonged to her. No matter the consequences,
she no longer cared
she was physically tired of being told she was the lessor,
Emotionally tired of racism,
and decided –on this day- that it was time to overcome;
It was time to overcome the many decades negro dreams
have starved for the opportunity of freedom; the many years the system
abused the hopes of the people she saw reflected in her past,
present and future. She sat and refused to give up
to define strength.
Rosa Louise Parks saved my life on a Thursday.
Before I even took my first breath, her determination
showed me the passion to express and become a voice;
before I even took my first steps, her bravery
allowed me to stand tall and strong in my own skin
and before my eyes even began to see the prejudices
of an unjust world, her incarnation led
to the freedom of my vision; a vision of equality
and the integration of all souls as one unity.
Tarringo T. Vaughan