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How Rosa Parks Ignited a Generation of African American Independent Thinkers

This month, America commemorates the 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks’s refusal to give her up her seat on the bus to a white man on Dec 1, 1955, thus igniting the Montgomery Bus Boycott and rejuvenating the Civil Rights Movement.

Parks could have easily succumbed to the divisive and segregated laws of her time, but it was her desire to become an independent thinker outside of the status quo, that compelled her to create the change that African-Americans so desperately wanted.

In order for Parks to make history, she had to first become unsatisfied with the current trend. But Parks didn’t just insert herself into a column of the history books. It was her independent thinking that paved a way for other African-Americans.

Take for instance Sen. Tim Scott, an African-American Republican from South Carolina and the product of a single-mother household. His independent thinking in terms of education and poverty is compelling him to rethink our approach to schooling:

Well, it’s obvious to me that our state — our nation and our states spend about $600 billion on education, and yet our outcomes in education are getting worse.

And so what I have proposed is for us to take a serious look at, how do we create an environment where kids are going to succeed at the highest level possible? And, to me, that includes having the parents — giving the parents more choices so the kid has a better chance, whether that’s charter schools, public school choice for those schools that are failing in the school district, whether that is private school.

We need to have a real cafeteria plan so that the parents have the best options on the table for their kids.

Star Parker, president of CURE (Center for Urban Renewal and Education) uses independent thinking to bridge the racial and economic divide:

It is insulting that liberals pretend to care about the poor yet fight any acknowledgment of what has failed and block efforts to move forward with what can succeed. Despite mountains of data showing the fruitlessness of secularism and government dependency, the liberal black establishment fights to hold communities hostage to these destructive forces.

Promising ideas abound on how to redirect government policies that can empower rather than debilitate personal freedom and the human spirit: school choice, personal retirement accounts, vouchers to acquire private health insurance and housing.

Thomas Sowell, a renowned African-American economist, challenges the notion that white racism causes black poverty with independent thinking and facts:

The “legacy of slavery” argument is not just an excuse for inexcusable behavior in the ghettos. In a larger sense, it is an evasion of responsibility for the disastrous consequences of the prevailing social vision of our times, and the political policies based on that vision, over the past half century.

Anyone who is serious about evidence need only compare black communities as they evolved in the first 100 years after slavery with black communities as they evolved in the first 50 years after the explosive growth of the welfare state, beginning in the 1960s.

You would be hard-pressed to find as many ghetto riots prior to the 1960s as we have seen just in the past year, much less in the 50 years since a wave of such riots swept across the country in 1965.

We are told that such riots are a result of black poverty and white racism. But in fact — for those who still have some respect for facts — black poverty was far worse, and white racism was far worse, prior to 1960. But violent crime within black ghettos was far less.

Then there’s Deneen Borelli, an African-American conservative whose independent thinking on energy policies could be a lifesaver for many American families:

Since minority households have lower incomes than white households, rising energy prices will take a larger share of their family’s disposable income leaving fewer dollars for housing, medicine, and clothes.

Obama’s refusal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, new greenhouse gas regulations from the EPA and discussions of a carbon tax provides more evidence that Obama’s anti-fossil fuel agenda will force energy prices higher.

There are many others who have contributed independent thinking and analysis of policy to help advance minority communities.

While it’s obvious that disagreement will never escape us, it will take an exodus of outdated mind programming in order to bring civility and upward mobility to the areas that need it most.

Rosa Parks did it. So can we.


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