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Rosa Parks was one of these many people.
"Sept 1, 1939," by W.H. Auden
In the days following the Sept. 11 attacks, this poem may well have been passed around more on the internet than any other poem in the English- speaking world. Why did people respond to it so powerfully? What would it mean if we took Auden's message seriously, "We must love one another or die?"
"The Optimism of Uncertainty" by Howard Zinn
Zinn provides many examples of people and events in history that show how seemingly powerless people can actually change the world. Can you think of additional examples from history or your own experience that support this point?
Zinn warns: "Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act." Can optimism also become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Write a statement using "optimism" or "hope" that explains why this might be true.
"People are not naturally violent or cruel or greedy, although they can be made so. Human beings everywhere want the same things: they are moved by the sight of abandoned children, homeless families, the casualties of war; they long for peace, for friendship and affection across lines of race and nationality." Do you agree or disagree? Support your position with specific examples. In addition to the commonalties Zinn identifies, what are other human commonalities that transcend distance and culture?
How would you summarize Howard Zinn's perspective on what we learn from history? He writes: "Throughout history people have felt powerless before authority, but that at certain times these powerless people, by organizing, acting, risking, persisting, have created enough power to change the world around them, even if a little."
Do you agree with Zinn's judgments that political power is “more fragile than we think,” and that fundamental change does not come in one fell swoop but as an a long “succession of surprises”?
Similarly, Loeb writes, "History also shows that even seemingly miraculous advances are in fact the result of many people taking small steps together over a long period of time." Is this the view of history you've been taught? How many of the examples Zinn gave of unexpected turnings did you know about? What about accurate depictions of citizens making change? Think again of the Rosa Parks story. What is the value of value of emphasizing courageous and positive moments when ordinary citizens helped change the world?
If you think of Zinn as a fiery radical, were you surprised by his inviting the string quartet to play in his classroom? What does this say about the sources that sustain us?
The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) will keep a seat open and the headlights shining on its entire fleet on Thursday, December 1, 2016, to honor the life of Rosa Parks and her contribution to equal rights. Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her seat to a white man in Montgomery, Ala., on Dec. 1, 1955. Her small act of civil disobedience led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling that outlawed segregation on public transportation.
INTRODUCTION Rosa Parks: My Story is an autobiography.
Rosa Park’s grandfather had very fair skin tone and was often mistaken for being white, although he strongly disliked white men since he was born a slave and had worked on plantations....
What stops us from acting on issues we care about? Have there been issues, small or large, where you've wanted to take a stand, but didn't? Why do you think you didn't?
If there were issues where you have taken a stand, what got you involved? How did the experience change you?
Do you feel like ordinary citizens really can make a difference? Or do you hold back from acting because you think your efforts are futile?
Were you surprised to see a portrait of Desmond Tutu as so down-to-earth? Do you think of global heroes as saintly and detached? Do you agree that "only someone who knows how good life can be is in a position to appreciate what's at stake when life is degraded or destroyed"?
Are you hopeful in your personal life, for your own individual future? Do you have more or less hope in terms of this country's future, or the future of the world?
Were you surprised to know that some of the Eastern European revolutions started with the defense of a rock band? Any lessons from this?
Did you know the real Rosa Parks story, or did you only know the myth? How does it change your view to know Parks didn't act alone? Does it change your image of how people become activists?
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, was arrested December 1, 1955.
Rosa Parks overcame inequality by not letting racial judgment control what she did or how she thought, fighting for her rights, and living to tell and share her hardships for others to learn from.
Rosa Parks influenced many northerners & lawmakers to look squarely at the discrimination victimizing Alabama’s black people, and work to correct injustice.
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"Not Deterred" by Paxus Calta
Have you ever been told that your hopes for change are unreasonable, and that you have to be "realistic?" Who defines what is realistic and what is not in terms of our common future?
Calta says that "old gray-haired men with many initials after their names dominate discussion and policy making." Who dominates discussion and policy making in your immediate community? Whose voices are not being heard? How can you find a voice, like Polina, in order to be heard?
Research the central arguments for the use of renewable energy vs. nuclear power. Assess the development and potential of renewable energy in your own community. Rocky Mountain Institute, is one excellent resource.
"In What Do I Place My Trust?" by Sister Rosalie Bertell
What is Bertell's main point about stories? Interview someone who has a "nourishing story" to tell, that is, a story to inspire, to instruct, to carry you forward.
Bertell writes about the importance of human connectedness: "We have to be part of something larger than ourselves, because our dreams are often bigger than our lifetimes." How do we learn to act in causes whose full fruits may not bloom until long after we're gone?
Does Bertell's notion of connectedness and mutual dependency conflict with the common belief of American individualism? Explain.
Bertell was a long-time environmental activist. Brainstorm three environmental issues that affect you and your community. For one of the issues, research the issue and positions of key elected officials. What are the pros and cons of the issue? With which position do you agree or disagree the most? Why?
"Faith Works" by Jim Wallis
What does Wallis mean by "Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, then watching the evidence change"? Do you agree?
Wallis describes the "rise of the consumer society." How satisfied are you with this direction? In what way do you support or resist pervasive consumerism? How do our religious institutions respond to this shift?
Do you think Wallis speaks only to Christians? Explain.
Discuss the appropriate role of faith as a political tool. How did his faith empower Desmond Tutu to tell the South African policemen that they were on the wrong side of God and history, and then invite them to join the winning side? How could we adapt Tutu's style of generous-spirited truth-telling to our own political climate?
“The Progressive Story of America” by Bill Moyers
What does Moyers mean by saying the women in his small Texas town "simply couldn't see beyond their own prerogatives?" Have you encountered people blinded in a similar way?
Rosa Parks: Life and Times :: American America History
Every bus in the MCTS fleet will have a seat reserved in honor of Rosa Parks. The sign features a picture of her on the bus and one of her famous quotes, “My only concern was to get home after a hard day’s work.”
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