Tag Archives: Civil Rights

Person: Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks is fingerprinted after she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus. Uploaded by mindfully.org.

Rosa Parks is fingerprinted after refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus. Uploaded by mindfully.org.

She worked her shift as a seamstress, a day like any other in a job that didn’t change much. She took her seat on the city bus, no more tired than usual on that Thursday afternoon in 1955. But then the bus driver ordered her to give up her seat to a white passenger. Rosa stayed seated until America at last stood up full civil rights for all Americans.

Rosa has been celebrated and honored for her action, but the immediate consequences were much less pleasant. She was arrested and spent a day in jail, then lost her job at the Montgomery Fair department store. She received so many threats that she moved from Alabama to Detroit in 1957 for her safety.

Uploaded by estatevaults.com.

Uploaded by estatevaults.com.

Rosa’s actions led to a 381-day boycott of city buses organized by a newly formed group called the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). The MIA was led by an obscure 26-year-old pastor who quickly galvanized America: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rosa Parks received a number of honors for her courageous stand, including the Springarn Medal given by the NAACP, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she was named one of the 20 most influential and iconic people of the 20th century by Time

Singer: Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan has "a voice as if sandpaper could sing." Uploaded by morethings.com.

Bob Dylan has "a voice as if sandpaper could sing." Uploaded by morethings.com.

Bob Dylan recorded his first four albums as a folk singer, becoming hugely influential more for his songwriting than his performances. He didn’t experience much commercial success, and he didn’t really seek it. But several of his songs, notably “Blowing in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin'” became anthems for the anti-war and civil rights movements.

Uploaded to Flickr by masseffectkittens.

Uploaded to Flickr by masseffectkittens.

Then in 1965, not coincidentally as the Beatles were becoming an international sensation, Dylan showed up at the staid Newport Folk Festival and created an uproar of his own. You see, he played an electric guitar. Bob Dylan played an electric guitar! He was booed by the crowd, and only played three songs. But he was undeterred, and soon crowds accepted and approved the dramatic change.

In fact, Dylan never has been a huge commercial success, probably because he can’t sing a lick. Joyce Carol Oates described his voice as “frankly nasal, as if sandpaper could sing.” And she likes him. Many others have had hits with his songs, including “Mr. Tambourine Man” (The Byrds), “It Ain’t Me Babe” (The Turtles), “All Along the Watchtower” (Jimi Hendrix), “Quinn the Eskimo” (Manfred Mann), and 375 different covers of “Blowing in the Wind.”

Dylan, like most artists who’ve enjoyed longevity, has experimented with many styles through his career. He’s ventured into gospel, jazz, Western swing, even rap. He converted to Christianity, and his music continued to reflect the changes of his life.

Bob Dylan has won Grammys and an Academy Award, been inducted into the Rock and Roll and the Songwriters Halls of Fame, and received the Kennedy Center Honors. His song “Like a Rolling Stone” was named number one in the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone. (I would have chosen “Tangled Up in Blue.”) And Dylan virtually invented the music video – here he is with his wonderfully playful “Subterranean Homesick Blues”: