In this together: History chronicles, teaches impact of choices

Thanks, Rosa,” he said as he slid into the seat in front of the statue of Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks.

“Thanks a lot,” he said emphatically. “You did good.”

We were inside a bus that was inside a museum in Memphis, Tenn.

The young man who climbed into the bus just in front of me was probably only 12 years old but already keenly aware of the difference one brave woman had made in his life.

He didn’t have to sit in the back of the bus while white people sat in the front.

And it was thanks to Rosa Parks.

You learn a lot about the courage of individuals trying to right a wrong when you visit the Civil Rights Museum built into and around the motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

And most of it makes you feel sad about the wrongs perpetrated in the past. And much of it makes you feel bad about the slowness of progress.

But some of it makes you feel hopeful about the courage of people who see a wrong and work to right it.

To learn about the deeds of Rosa and the words of Martin Luther King Jr. is to learn about courage and the difference it can make.

Here in Utah, students of all ages are invited to memorize the words of Dr. King each year for a celebration of equity in Davis School District. 

Though it has been many years and there has been progress since the words were first uttered, one can’t help but be moved by King’s vision. And his dream.

Phrases of inspiration and hope are recited with passion by these young people who seem to share his desire for fairness and acceptance.

And you just feel the world will be a better place.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that,” he said and they quote. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” he said, and we remember.

At another museum we visited during a recent explore of the south, we learned more about the people and events that led to the terrible tragedy of World War II and the people and events that led to its horrific conclusion.

The New Orleans museum chronicled on what happened and, perhaps, why.

And after a study of the leaders on both sides who had such an impact on the era, you have to start wondering about the people who followed.

Because that, generally, is us.

Are we the ones on the bus refusing others a seat? Or are we the ones cheering for a speaker who asks us all to love each other? (Thank you Dr. King and thank you Rev. Curry)

Are we the ones supporting a leader who believes one race is better than another? Or are we the ones stepping up to ensure those who have lost their homes can find safety?

Are we people of acceptance and inclusion, or bitterness and divide?

History will tell our story too.

May we be on the right side.

Like Rosa.


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