Rosa Parks to be feted for her 100th

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comFebruary 1, 2013 

Residents are gearing up to pay tribute to the woman responsible for one of the most iconic moments of the civil rights movement.

A celebration commemorating Rosa Parks will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 23 at Bethel Community Church, 415 I St.

The Rev. Bruce Rivers is organizing the event.

"I want to put the focus on what happened, this is where we've come from," Rivers said.

In 1955, Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man after being ordered to do so by a bus driver in Montgomery, Ala. Her eventual arrest sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted for more than a year.

The Rosa Parks celebration will also recognize what would have been her 100th birthday. Parks died in 2005, and was the first woman to lie in honor at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Rivers met Parks at a Martin Luther King Jr. march in Seaside in 1995.

"She was a pistol of a little lady. She was stepping harder than some of the young folks," he said

Rivers said his event will include a re-enactment of Parks' refusal to give up her seat, church performances, birthday cake and a slide show of his recent trip to the Rosa Parks Library and Museum in Alabama.

Rivers said he learned at the museum that Parks had obeyed the law.

"Black people could sit on the bus from the middle back," he said. "She was right not to give up her seat."

Vondell McKenzie, president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said she hopes people of all races attend the event and learn about the fight against discrimination and the contributions of blacks.

"Rosa Parks was a true battler of discrimination," McKenzie said. "She wasn't a welfare woman, she was a businesswoman. She was a seamstress on her way home, and when she was told to give up her seat it took that 'I've had enough' (attitude) for her not to do it."

McKenzie said Parks is celebrated a lot in the south, but not much in the north or on the West Coast. McKenzie and Rivers thanked Pascual Mendivil for presenting the idea to them to celebrate Parks' life. Mendivil spearheaded the event last year and asked Rivers and Mackenzie to take it over.

"I thank Pascual. It's definitely something (the NAACP) is interested in," McKenzie said.

Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at cpride@losbanosenterprise.com.

Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at cpride@losbanosenterprise.com.

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