We often remember the people who symbolize a movement, but forget all the people who came beforehand to create that movement. We remember the dates, but forget all the events that lead up to that moment to make that moment possible. These historical figures weren’t just in the right place at the right time. Their internal beliefs and their outward actions were aligned in such a way that when the right time and right place came along they had the courage to step into their moment in history.
Take for example Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks was sitting in the very front row of where African-Americans were allowed to sit in accordance with Alabama segregation laws. When the bus started to fill up with more Caucasians, the bus driver, James F. Blake, asked all African-American passengers to give up their seats. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, she was arrested. That incident lead to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which started on the day of Rosa Parks’ arrest and went on until December 20, 1956 when the United States Supreme Court declared that Alabama’s bus segregation laws were unconstitutional.
Rosa Parks was not the first African-American to not give up her seat. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was not the first action of its kind. Everything that happened previous to December 1, 1955 laid the groundwork to allow the Montgomery Bus Boycott to become the tipping point for the civil rights movement. Rosa Parks could not have known that her actions would lead to a United States Supreme Court ruling to desegregate the buses in Alabama. But she knew what she did was right at the moment she did it.
One could say Rosa Parks was in the right place at the right time. I would say that Rosa Parks’ beliefs and actions were aligned in such as way that when she was in the right place at the right time that she had the courage to step into her moment in history. To paraphrase Parks, “I was tired of giving in.” She was no longer willing to be just a passenger on the civil rights bus. She was no longer a spectator in the civil rights movement. She was a now an engaged participant and activist in the civil rights movement.
We’ve all had moments in our own personal history when we heard the call to action but our internal values did not match outward actions. We gave in to our fears, our doubts, or our selfish needs. These were moments when we missed out on our own tipping points in changing our lives. The truth is, we have these tipping point moments everyday. Everyday we are given opportunities to match our beliefs with our actions. Everyday we are given opportunities to make major changes in our own personal history. Stop giving in to your fears and doubts. Donâ€™t settle for just being a spectator in your life. Participate, and engage. Become an activist of your own life. Be your own tipping point