Thursday, February 09, 2006

On "Politicizing" Parks & King

Two great champions of civil rights died not so far apart, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King. Presidents (plural) flocked to their funerals, as did other high profile mourners, to pay tribute - and to add some political spin to their passing.

Well, some pundits, I hear, have had a field day with this, arguing (and that is the right word for it - arguing) that no one's death or funeral should be "politicized." You might note that the pundits (and the public) on this rampage are not our biggest fans of civil rights, of protest, of speaking truth to power, of trying to do what's right - right in the face of what's wrong.

Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King politicized their own lives. Indeed, they lived political lives, by choice, consistently and persistently. Just because they didn't usually preach or shout or testify or run for office doesn't mean their lives, as not only we the public but as their own friends and families knew them, were not political. Perhaps compare them to Oprah Winfrey. Ms. Winfrey often steers relatively clear of taking political sides, but she's political, too. Of course she is! Anyone interested in voicing their views for rights and change and governance and civility and what kind of people should we be and what sort of nation should we be is political.

So, actually, it would be inappropriate to let these courageous women fade away without giving some stirring speeches (and even offering up some new and honorary legislation) specifically regarding what Ms. Parks and Ms. King desired in life, what they stood for, what they worked and took risks for - and not only for themselves but for us all.


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