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Ohio State hosts celebration of Rosa Parks

Rep. Joyce Beatty speaks about present, future of the civil rights movement

The legacy of civil rights leader Rosa Parks was honored at The Ohio State University’s Fawcett Center last week.

“The Power of One: The Spirit of the Movement” was part of the 17th Annual Statewide Tribute to Rosa Parks at Ohio State. The university and the Central Ohio Transit Authority supported the Thursday night discussion, which was hosted by former news anchor Jerry Revish and featured Congresswoman Joyce Beatty and Congressional Black Caucus Executive Director Vincent Evans.

Beatty said the civil rights struggle continues – and one of the battlegrounds is over voting rights.

“And here is the power of one and the power of us: Ask yourself why someone would want to deny voting rights. It’s the power, it’s the voice,” Beatty said. “When we vote, we win.”

Ohio is recognized as the first state to enact legislation identifying Dec. 1 as Rosa Parks Day. It honors the day when Parks refused to leave a whites-only section of a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Beatty sponsored the legislation as a lawmaker in the Ohio Statehouse.

Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson spoke to the crowd via video message.

“Rosa Parks lives on as an emblem of courage, resilience, defiance and making the good kind of trouble,” Johnson said. “Rosa Parks’ legacy is a reminder to advocate on behalf of anyone whose voice is marginalized or suppressed or whose pathway to liberty is obstructed by intolerance, intimidation or neglect.”

Revish discussed the current state of the civil rights movement with Beatty and Evans. Beatty said if Parks were still alive, she would like the direction it is headed in and the people leading the way.

“I think she would be pleased with this young generation standing up and speaking freely and not being afraid,” she said.

Evans said while progress has been made, the central goals are still the same. He pointed out that the message of the March on Washington in 1963 was a call for jobs and justice. When supporters celebrate the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington next year, Evans said, the key message will still be jobs and justice.

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