As I've been watching recent reactions to change in many directions, I've thought many times of Mrs. Rosa Parks' example, as the well-known Mother of the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Her remarkable contribution that unknowingly was the catalyst that opened the way for people of color, women and all people, shines brightly on us all.
So what could we learn about forging new paths from Rosa Parks' contributions?
I've always loved the leadership example Rosa Parks set for all of us as women. Also, men could learn from it too. Let's consider just a few of her leadership qualities:
- She let her ACTIONS speak for her. Instead ranting and raving about things, she just quietly took action and gave new truth to the notion that "actions speak louder than words." Long before her now famous action on the bus, she demonstrated her quiet strength in working to change things that were unjust for the sake of others.
- She didn't stop with one action. Rosa Parks spent a lifetime quietly going about using her influence for good. She stayed true to her convictions. Rosa Parks story is American history...her arrest and trial, a 381-day Montgomery bus boycott, and, finally, the Supreme Court's ruling in November 1956 that segregation on transportation is unconstitutional ...but moreover, her determination to work for others became the catalyst for change throughout her life.
- She set the example of the power of feminine dignity. With an undeniable sparkle in her eye, she presented herself to the world with the beauty of dignity and grace. Always a soft, warm smile and understated elegance seemed to follow her presence whenever she showed up. It was a presence that commanded respect and attention without words...just by being a leader in her own right.
"Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it," writes Rosa Parks in her book, Quiet Strength, (Zondervan Publishing House, 1994). "I kept thinking about my mother and my grandparents, and how strong they were. I knew there was a possibility of being mistreated, but an opportunity was being given to me to do what I had asked of others."
"I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people." --- Rosa Parks
As we think about the contributions we will make in our lifetime, what shining qualities do you most want to share with others? How can you apply these lessons from Rosa Parks, a woman who changed a nation:
- Let your leadership ACTIONS speak for you.
- Stay true to your convictions; be consistent by example for a lifetime.
- Be a leader with quiet strength, wide influence, grace and dignity.
- Be the change you want to see in others; it can change the world around you.
More highlights of Rosa Park's life on NPR. Listen now...
Warm regards to all,
Putting Our Differences to Work
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