reprint: (Washington, D.C., Sunday, Oct 30, 2005)
Standing in line among so many proud Black women, proud Black men, proud men and women of every color…
After reading on Friday that Mrs. Rosa Parks would lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, I booked a ticket for Saturday. On Sunday, I was in line to honor this woman who by taking a seat taught us how to stand.
Eventually there were tens of thousands in the line. But, by noon there were only 31. I was number 29. The doors to the Capitol finally opened at 8:40pm.
It wasn’t easy finding the line on the Capitol grounds Sunday morning. Only a non-Black person from a city as white as Austin would assume that two Black women standing near the Washington, D.C. Botanical Gardens were forming the line for Mrs. Parks. Me–I’m guilty. And, only after reflecting on this did I realize why Ruby from the Detroit Free Press hadn’t thought to ask these women if they were the line. I introduced them. Ruby interview them, especially Ms. Joyce Cox who grew up a bike ride away from the Capitol and told me her story of riding her bike on the grounds as Queen Elizabeth’s motorcade drove by.
Eventually, Ruby found the line and called, telling me it was a few hundred yards away, near Third Street. When I arrived (11:30), 28 others had gathered. Once no. 30 and no. 31 arrived, I walked up and down the line talking to each person. It will not surprise my friends that I have lots of notes on index cards.