On December 1st, 1955, an African-American seamstress from Montgomery, AL refused to move to the back of the bus after the driver ordered her to give her seat to a white passenger. Rosa Parks had no gun. She wasn’t trained in hand-to-hand combat. She was simply a woman who was tired of being second-class.
She wasn’t the first to stand up to the white establishment. She wasn’t even the first to defiantly hold on to her bus seat, but she had the social connections to eventually attract the attention of a preacher named Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who sought inspiration from men who taught non-violence, like Mahatma Gandhi.
From Park’s small act of peaceful rebellion, King helped grow a movement – one which, through peace, helped tear down some of the barriers to full equality for all races.
Monday, January 21st, is a day set aside to celebrate King’s legacy. It is on this day that this meme and others like it are appearing on Facebook:
Parks isn’t the only civil rights icon whose legacy is being distorted with symbols of violence. King himself – a man who was assassinated at the point of a rifle, a man who dedicated his life to non-violence, who counseled his followers to leave their weapons (if they had them) at home – is being used as a symbol of gun rights.
Rush Limbaugh (like others) counterintuitively argue that the body count would have been lower if civil rights protesters had been armed. Gun Appreciation Day was dedicated to the memory of Martin Luther King – and it can’t be said often enough – the man who dedicated himself to unarmed rebellion died not of a heart attack, not in a car accident – he was gunned down.
Whether owning an AR-15 is a right or not is an argument that will probably only be settled by the Supreme Court. However, the Second Amendment has never been all-encompassing. Many weapons are not available to the American people. A Google search for uranium might put you on a terrorist watch list. Just try buying a tank or a drone at your local gun shop.
Regardless, the legacies of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. are not gun nuts’ for the taking. Their lives stood for change through unarmed peace. If gun advocates would be willing to defend their perceived rights by putting down their weapons instead of using them to threaten all who disagree, a dialogue could be had. But when unarmed people are literally and figuratively being threatened at gunpoint, it is those who fight against gun violence who deserve to memorialize Parks and King.
|Wendy Gittleson is a seasoned writer, a dog lover and an avid political junkie. She is the Senior Editor for Addicting Info. In her rare down times, you’ll find her somewhere in the mountains or near the beach. Follow her on her Facebook page or on Twitter, @wendygittleson|