The bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger is on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn
That the pall of racism continues to shroud America – as demonstrated in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial – should come as no surprise. After all, it was just 150 years ago that this country turned on itself and fought a monstrous civil war that claimed more than 600,000 American lives. Such an ingrained practice as slavery and its evil offspring racism cannot be erased in a century and a half. Prejudice against Jews has endured for more thna 2,000 years, and it took the annihilation of 6 million of them by Nazis to shame the world into a more accepting attitude.
While continued subjugation of blacks was not the only issue that set North and South at each other’s throats, President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared the end of slavery as a war goal. But even victory could not extinguish the fires of racism. Examples abound.
Blacks were banned from professional baseball, so they played in their own leagues until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. And that, like increased tolerance of Jews into which the world was shamed, flowed from the horror of the Second World War. Happy Chandler, the newly installed baseball commissioner, was quoted as saying that: “if they (African-Americans) can fight and die on Okinawa, Guadalcanal (and) in the South Pacific, they can play ball in America,” according to eyewitnesstohistory.com.
Remember the late Rosa Parks, dubbed the “first lady of civil rights” after she boarded a bus on Dec. 1, 1955, and refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake’s order to surrender her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Recall the struggles of blacks to sit in “white-only” restaurants and use “white-only” restrooms, the murders of white and black civil rights activists, and the popularity of the despicable Ku Klux Klan.
Witness even today that organization’s continued war against any skin but white, and see it cloaking itself in the guise of Christianity and patriotism. “Bringing a Message of Hope and Deliverance to White Christian America!” is emblazoned under the Stars and Stripes on the Klan website.
In the Southern United States, some still refer to the Civil War as the “war of Northern aggression,” not the conflict that helped end the evils of slavery. America is the world’s most powerful country. It need not worry about being challenged by the Russians, the Chinese or any other country. If America declines, it will be from within, in no small part because of the soul-devouring plague of racism.