I haven't been able to follow the coverage of Rosa Parks' death very closely. But I am frustrated by the hagiography of Mother Parks as a lone individual -- a simple seamstress who'd had enough. At the time of her illegal act of defiance, she was already a member of the NAACP. The mistreatment of blacks on busses was institutionalized and long-standing. She was already involved in raising money to defend a 15 year-old girl who had been arrested in Montgomery for refusing to give up her seat on a bus. Parks was not highly schooled; she did not receive her high school diploma until she was 21. But she was highly educated. She allowed her conscience and her courage to be informed and raised by her circumstances and her community. She was the symbol of a movement, but she was part of one long before her historic act of resistance.
I'm grateful that her life and her death have received considered attention. It was particularly fitting that her funeral took place on All Souls' Day. It's a day set apart in the Christian calendar (esp. Catholic) to pray for all the departed. On this day when we remember Rosa Parks, I remember, too, all those who have given their lives to set others free.