In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but rather the silence of our friends.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Most people remember Martin Luther King, Jr. for his “I Have a Dream” speech from August 28th, 1963. He had so many other memorable quotes, it’s hard for me to choose just one for this piece. The one above really resonated with me. But on this weekend when we celebrate Reverend King, I am reminded of another remarkable civil rights figure, Rosa Parks. I had the distinct honor of meeting Ms. Parks back in 1991 at a Congressional Black Caucus event in Washington, D.C., which I attended with a very good friend of mine. Rosa Parks was nearly 80 years old and in a wheel chair, and I remember getting goosebumps when I got the chance to shake her small, frail hand.

Fast forward about fifteen years, when my daughter was in first grade. She told us one day that she was learning about Rosa Parks in school. I told her all about my encounter with Ms. Parks and what an honor it was for me to meet her, and encouraged her to share that story with her teacher and her classmates. I thought it would be pretty neat for a first grader to tell her class that her mom had met someone famous they were studying.

A few days went by, and I asked my daughter if she told her teacher and her classmates that I had met Rosa Parks. Her eyes welled up with tears and she said, “Yes, I did, but they didn’t believe me.” “What do you mean they didn’t believe you? I met her! It was such a great privilege! I’ll have to talk to your teacher.” So the next time I was in her class volunteering, I broached the subject with her teacher. Prepared to provide the details of my experience with Ms. Parks, I said to the teacher “My daughter said she shared with you and the class that I met Rosa Parks and that you all didn’t believe her. It’s true. I did meet her. At Congressional Black Caucus in 1991. She was in a wheelchair…..” I was prepared to go on but I realized I already sounded more than a little defensive. I shut up long enough for the teacher to speak and tell me this: “No, we didn’t believe her.  Because she told us you met Betsy Ross.” Ouch. I may be old….but not THAT old.

Each person must live their life as a model for others. – Rosa Parks