The Day I Served Rosa Parks Dinner

BerlinWall_1 When I was an undergrad, I worked as a hasher for Stanford University Food Service in Wilbur Hall. One day, probably in 1990, Rosa Parks was in town visiting Stanford to speak at a campus event and was visiting one of the dorms in Wilbur. She was with a group of students and came through the cafeteria to eat dinner on the line I was working that night, and I helped assemble her dinner plate for her. I’m glad her act of defiance many years ago helped bring about change in the world so that it didn’t strike me (or anyone else) that it was odd that a young white kid was serving dinner to an old black lady.

A year later, I was studying in Berlin and came across a section of the Berlin Wall that had been left standing and took a picture of it. I’ve always remembered the words painted on the wall, which are apparently an old African saying, “Many small people, who in many small places, do many small things, can alter the face of the world.” When I read the news that Rosa Parks had passed, this turn of phrase popped in to my head. Farewell, Rosa Parks.

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  • Great Post. Rest in Peace Rosa.

  • Amen to that
    What a beautiful story
    Ventures are a bit like that…very small, tiny groups working on very big things
    May everyone be blessed with the courage to think differently, as Rosa Parks did and may entrepreneurship always guide courage to shape better reality

  • Adam B

    You know what. An 8 yearold child could come up with great ideas to solve most of the worlds Race related ISSUES.
    The PROBLEM is by the age of 28 the 8 year olds get greedy and say no. Lets fight.
    Very sad.

  • Adam B

    You know what. An 8 yearold child could come up with great ideas to solve most of the worlds Race related ISSUES.
    The PROBLEM is by the age of 28 the 8 year olds get greedy and say no. Lets fight.
    Very sad.

  • Leah PettePiece

    Tuesday, October 25, 2005
    The Passing of a Hero
    Memories of Rosa Parks
    Leah PettePiece
    25/10/05
    DETROIT – Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man sparked the modern civil rights movement, died Monday evening. She was 92.
    Mrs. Parks died at her home during the evening of natural causes, with close friends by her side, said Gregory Reed, an attorney who represented her for the past 15 years.
    Mrs. Parks was 42 when she committed an act of defiance in 1955 that was to change the course of American history and earn her the title “mother of the civil rights movement.”
    At that time, Jim Crow laws in place since the post-Civil War Reconstruction required separation of the races in buses, restaurants and public accommodations throughout the South, while legally sanctioned racial discrimination kept blacks out of many jobs and neighborhoods in the North. (From the Associated Press Release 25-10-2005)
    As I read the statement of Rosa’s death, I was once again a young woman with Ideals, it took me back to the 1963 tour of the south that I went on with a friend from school, we were white, but we were young and invincible, filled with idealism going to march with Dr. King.
    Both of us had idolized Mrs. Parks for her sheer bravery, her tenacity the ability to hang on even when she knew the consequences in order to make change for others!
    We traveled into the depths of the Savannah to march with Martin Luther King; there were Rabbis and Priest and others, among them Rosa Parks to show the rest of the world and the US that we were with the movement toward equality. To say with a loud and clear voice “ENOUGH”, there is no reason not be equal, we are after all human, no matter what the color God bestowed on our skin, no not the religious beliefs either, or the political affiliation either, just the pure Humanness made us equal, made us one!
    She was a hero of our time, a giant among women of the black section of America and she became to us a tower of strength who epitomized every ideal we ever had of being strong and independent; of finding our place in life and realizing that we were all equal not only as women but as humans. After the march there was a rally, and at some point we found ourselves close to the stage at the front where Rev. King was speaking, I recall that there was this great photo of Rosa, staring out the bus window and then another with her face shinning in defiance out from the bars of her cell, years later I would write about that day in my own book. It was the day that I first realized that God in His/Her own wisdom had indeed made us all, and we should never sit by while any other race or portion of society was mistreated.
    Here I am forty-two year later living in Tzfat in Israel and while reading this account in the paper I am moved. Is this feeling only from the past I ask myself, or is it something more? Suddenly as if a clap of thunder went off in my head I realize, NO this is not only from the past, this is from the present here in Israel TOO!
    There is here in Israel a sort of unspoken and unwritten law that makes the segment of our society who are Ultra Religious better than the rest of us. They are protected from sending their children into the service,
    they are given preferential treatment in all walk s of life, served first, and often they push themselves to the front of long lines and are allowed this privilege with out complaint from those who are standing in an orderly line. They in short, “ride in the front of our bus.”
    Although there are those who would argue that they have this right by the mere fact that they are religious, I see clearly that here in Israel we have a situation in which there is inequality and injustice on a large scale because of this privileged position that they hold.
    Oddly enough, it is not their skin color that tells us who these privileged ones are, no it is rather their mode of dress, black and white, long coats, big hats, for the women head coverings and dress that evoke thoughts of medieval times.
    They are a group apart from the rest of us, they get privileges we only dream of, they do not have to hold a job, or pay taxes, the government pays them to do nothing but pray and study, and they also pay them to have children and then pay for the children. They hold themselves up as better than the rest of us, in fact to them we are dirt under their feet, dust in the wind, we should not be here in fact at all! I wonder as I look at what I would make in a job and then calculate the 51% of my income that would go to taxes to pay their stipends how long it will be before a Rosa Parks rises up amongst us.
    It isn’t enough either that they are a “class set aside”, “above” the rest of us, but they are allowed to mistreat their wives with singular impunity, they tell them what to do, how to think, who they may visit, what to wear and some of them even beat their wives into submission. The leading Rabbis of the religious denomination are even exempt from persecution by the law of the state of Israel.
    Their children account for the hundreds of hungry children in each city because they go on having one child after another in a dark and subverted belief that they must have more children so that we outdo the Arabs, the Muslims, childbirth rate! Absurd!
    They do not study about life, they do not allow their children to study about real life, they read and study only Torah, they are selective even in where they send their children to be taught, it mustn’t be a secular school because the boys must not play with the girls and the girls must only learn how to keep house, cook, clean and have babies!
    We on the outside of this circle are the underclass, we who work, who educate our children in public schools, who are ‘modern’ in dress and thinking are to them a blight on the Zionist nation of Israel, if we came
    here from the west and were not “religious” when we came but from a more modern arm of Judaism, Reform or Renewal, they do not even consider us to be true Jews. Imagine, living in ones homeland, the place you always dreamt of living in and being told you are not a JEW!!!
    Where I wonder is our Rosa Parks, when will we “rise up singing” and bring on a new day, a day when every man, woman and child in the state of Israel are equal? How many years did it take after Mrs. Parks so bravely refused to give up the seat on that bus? Nearly my entire lifetime, I am sixty now, and I don’t think I will live to see equality here in Israel, but I wish that I had half the courage that Rosa had, just half the determination and intent!
    Today we lost a HERO, a Woman of Valor, A Woman with a Price above Rubies, a mother who taught us to stand and be counted, and we will morn her even here, far from the place of her death because she taught us so much, she showed us the way in the depths of the struggle for equality and freedom in the United States. Her memory will never dim from my mind, nor from the minds of countless others who worked most of their lives to see her dreams become reality. And perhaps, just perhaps someone out there who reads this may become our Rosa, perhaps…