Alamara Varughese is an eighth grader at the San Francisco Friends School.
San Francisco, a city that holds everybody to the highest standards and remembers and honors members of the past, is not giving one of the most influential civil rights leaders the reverence, commemoration and respect she deserves. In the heart of the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco, off of Valencia Street, a bustling avenue, lies a small lane only the most attentive passersby would notice.
Rosa Parks Lane, hidden in the shadows of surrounding buildings, holds a row of government-owned houses. At the entrance to the street, there is a tilted pole on which a faded sign hangs that says, “Rosa Parks Lane.” The bland sign blends right into the background of buildings. It’s not the almost-nonexistent sign that leads the common eye to fly over the small street or the boring and dreary buildings, it’s the combination of the two. Ask San Franciscans if they know where Rosa Parks Lane is — or if they even know it exists.
Although Martin Luther King Jr. was a very substantial person in the civil rights movement who rallied and galvanized many people, Rosa Parks was the face of the bus boycotts that have become a key image for the civil rights movement. The bus boycotts catalyzed thousands of everyday citizens to fight for their rights. Martin Luther King has a holiday that millions of people celebrate nationally every year, and has over 900 streets named after him, whereas Rosa Parks has a single street named after her. Most likely, there are other places in our country that have designated areas to honor Rosa Parks with the recognition she deserves, but in the city of San Francisco, there is only one single monument in her honor, and it is buried beneath the constant bustle of city life. There has to be something more we can do to recognize her efforts.
One simple and effective way to pay homage to the people of our past, specifically Rosa Parks, is to have school children take the time during Black history month to visit Rosa Parks Lane. This would elevate awareness about the street among children, who are an important part of our city population, are very impressionable, and need to learn about the great civic leaders that influenced our country’s evolution. This may seem too small an honor for such a heroic and significant person, but starting small is always the first step towards change.
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