Rosa Parks, 2/4/1913 – 10/24/2005
Segregation. I don’t think I could handle segregation. I’m the kind of person who, on occasion, saunters into a situation like I belong there even if I don’t. As a kid I would get physically uneasy if I missed anything, sneaking into grown-up roof parties, hanging out with my brothers & their friends, even at the risk of losing ½ a pinky toe… I even hate naps! [well, I’ve learned to appreciate them… thanx]
How can a society of sentient beings with opposable thumbs — who share a language [!!] propose and uphold such a thing as segregation?? How does anybody do anything, frankly? Humans have knowingly devoured cheese loaded with maggots [yes, that’s a thing! what’s up Sardinia?!], shuttled other humans off in trains in great numbers to murder them, committed suicide en masse so that a comet can take them to paradise — yup, add ‘religion’ to the picture & it takes on a whole new sticky element– porn… [ha! sorry, I just find the word funny! but yeah, porn is pretty creepy too]. Given the right timing, the right audience & the right presenter, ANYthing can happen to ANYone. Scary stuff. December 1, 1955, Montgomery, Alabama– after a very long day at work, and actually sitting in her designated ‘colored only’ area on her bus ride home, Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, probably cranky and looking forward to something good for dinner, was told to get up from her seat and move back. I suspect it was Montgomery’s version of rush hour and the bus was getting packed… so the driver did something shady [but I’m sure practiced all the time] he moved the ‘colored only’ sign one row back and told the blacks that were sitting in the now ‘whites only territory’ to move. Rosa wasn’t budging; in fact she politely scooted over towards the window to make space for whoever needed to sit [oh boy! I think we’re related]. Before you knew it, cops were called, mugshots were taken, boycotts started and history was made. This was it, people!
This act of defiance, at this time, was the catalyst to ALL of it. People had refused to move before, it wasn’t uncommon, but this time they didn’t know who they were dealing with. By this point Rosa, 42, was primed & seasoned in all kinds of Civil Rights-y stuff. As a child she was constantly bullied by the white kids in her neighborhood [and you bet she fought back!]; she saw the Klan marching past her house and her grandfather protecting it, shotgun in hand; she had married a man who was an active NAACP member, then joined the Montgomery chapter herself and became Secretary. Also, this wasn’t the first encounter with that bus driver! on one stormy evening in 1943 she entered the bus from the front door, and the city rules required that blacks enter from the rear, he told her to enter again from the rear, she calmly stepped off and waited for the next bus – in the rain! 12 years later, she was so tired & distracted she didn’t realize it was the same moron. She was ready. Sometimes timing is everything. The right timing, the right audience, the right presenter… [it can go both ways right?] there were some bumpy roads ahead—she *was* a woman with an opinion after all, better yet, a woman of COLOR— but she fought on, and a fleet of honors and ceremonies and dedications later, indeed, the rest is history. There were some messy bits at the end of her life, but these sorts of things happen when fools handle the business affairs of old ladies. RIP Rosa, First Lady of Civil Rights.
Over the summer I had the privilege of visiting one of my favorite gothic hot spots in DC 😉 the National Cathedral! and spied a small limestone ceiling carving of Rosa in one of the foyers [west I believe], hanging out with Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt and others – all skillfully done & well-lit . That’s some good company!
“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
Lauren Anderson- B, February 19, 1965
Misty Copeland…. Good people, I was all set to present to you on this good day Ms. Misty Copeland. I really was! This woman has been photographed and blogged about to exhaustion. Inspirational! Adorable! Athletic! Graceful! Certainly, she has really accomplished a lot in almost 15 years at the American Ballet Theatre…. and just last summer, was named principal dancer there at the ABT– the first black female dancer to be honored with this opportunity. So proud! I was looking for a great pic of her and came across a quote she made about her role in Swan Lake:
“There’s just something about that ballet that people just — you envision this very pale Russian extremely tall woman as the swan. And typically people don’t see African-American women as ballerinas because they don’t think that we’re soft and feminine and sylph-like. They see us as very powerful and aggressive. And so I want to have the opportunity to prove them wrong.”
I’m not sure why I cringed at this… but I did, and continued my search for my perfect Misty pic nonetheless…
Then I came across Lauren Anderson… Who the f* is Lauren Anderson?! Welllll…. she’s around 50, [and today is her birthday! happy birthday Lauren!] lives in Houston with her jazz saxophonist husband Kyle Turner and son, [getting better] was a dancer in the Houston Ballet Company during 1983-2006 [even better] and was named principal dancer in 1990! Bingo! So why don’t we know who this woman is? SHE was groundbreaking, as she was the first black female principal dancer for that prestigious company—a trailblazer for others to come, including Misty. SHE got the same ‘you’re too powerful & athletic to do this’ speech, to which she flipped it on them and actually transformed her body composition to fit the requirements to be successful at her craft. SHE was extremely talented… Yes, yes, I know, I’m seeing lots of “was’s” and past tense stuff for lovely Lauren, and Misty is NOW. Plus, the ABT is a huge deal; highly visible & astronomically competitive– once you’re there, you’re set, and to be named principal dancer—and be black, well! Start writing your memoirs immediately! but the balance seems off. I won’t speculate…. it just seems off to me. America can be tricky… Lauren struck a chord in me, in a sort of unsung heroine way. Living in virtual anonymity, she deserves more recognition.
After retiring in 2006, Lauren began teaching ballet as well as conducting master classes in Houston, and she also lectures. Seems a bit full circle that she’s now teaching at the very academy founded by the same art director that told her to give up ballet because her body wasn’t built for it. Search engines are replete with Misty, you can’t get enough of her! jeté-ing & fouetté-ing & arabesque-ing all over the place, mid-air– it’s gorgeous! stylist off-camera ready with an outfit change & more powder and Evian… but you may have to dig for Lauren Anderson. You may even slip & wonder how you got elbow-deep on a playboy playmate’s page with the same name. Back- arrow & add ‘ballet’… perv…
“Because art is not a privilege, it’s a right… I think every kid should not just be exposed to it, but get to experience it. Put it on them. I just want to put it on them.”