Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Rosa Parks and the Omen Poem by Frances Shani Parker

A former Detroit Public Schools administrator at Rosa Parks Middle School in Michigan, I was fortunate to have spent time with Rosa Parks when she visited our school.

Rosa Parks and the Omen
By Frances Shani Parker

Greatness arrived when Rosa Parks
visited her namesake school.
I hung up her coat, knelt to remove
snow-covered boots from feet
that had walked, marched, scattered
footprints over racial injustice.
We laughed at our similar names
when she mistakenly signed her photo
“To Frances Parks,” not Frances Parker.
I felt an omen of kinship between us.

Her arrest for remaining in a bus seat
designated by law for white people
gave rise to the civil rights movement.
Years later, my own Detroit arrest
forced the opening of district centers
for students left after school hours.
When colleagues called me Rosa Parks,
my heart warmed with cherished
memories of a historic woman’s photo
with an omen of kinship that came true.

Passage of time brings slow endings.
I still encounter white privilege practices,
judgment through negative stereotypes,
ongoing news of systemic racial bias
in this divided country many call great.
But I remember proudly a warrior woman
who defended our human dignity
on a Montgomery, Alabama bus.
I honor her commitment, her courage,
her kinship with America’s oppressed.

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (1913–2005) became an American pioneer of the civil rights movement when she was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama. After decades of mass protests, bus segregation and related injustices were ruled unconstitutional. Rosa Parks received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal in 1999.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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