A gentle spirit, forced to fuss: At the time of Rosa Parks’ death, many people offered anecdotes about her life and spirit. We’ll never get to them all unless we start doling them out.
One such story was told by the Rev. Joseph Lowery, a towering figure in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He told his story to the NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown, at the end of a segment recalling Mrs. Parks' life:
BROWN (10/25/05): Rev. Lowery, we just have a minute, but I wanted to ask you: Did she know how important she was?As a child, she also sat with her grandfather on the front porch, as he brandished his shotgun.
LOWERY: Listen, it didn't bother her. It didn't faze her. She was totally undisturbed by it. Let me share this story quickly, that—
My youngest daughter married some 20-some years ago. Mrs. Parks gave her a $25 check for a wedding gift.
A year later, she ran into Mrs. Parks somewhere, and Mrs. Parks fussed at her. She said, “Daddy, you called her a gentle spirit but she wasn't gentle. She said to me, ‘Young lady, why don't you cash that check? I can't get my bank account straight!’ ”
And my daughter said to her, “Mrs. Parks, I will never cash that check. It's a treasure to me to have this from you.” Mrs. Parks didn't understand it because she didn't recognize her own place in history. And she left my daughter fussing, “Young lady, cash that check!”
That was the humility that hallmarked the life and ministry of Rosa Parks.
BROWN: All right, Rev. Joseph Lowery and Eleanor Holmes Norton, thank you both so much.
Presumably, each of these stories is true. That said, Rev. Lowery may not have fully understood Mrs. Parks, whose waters seemed to run very deep–so deep that she seemed to prefer not to have them discussed.