Upon Sister Rosa Parks’ death, people worldwide celebrated her life as a true American heroine. Sister Rosa Parks was the epitome of courage in the 20th Century in many ways. However, her defiance of refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on the 1st of December in 1955 may be the most significant action by an American Citizen in the 20th Century. Sister Park’s courage is remarkable because, unlike other significant figures in the 20th Century, such as our American Presidents, sister Park took her actions without the protection of the FBI, Law Enforcement, or a personal security force. Roving racist groups threatened her; her family received threatening phone calls. The only defense was her trust in God and her reliance on prayer. President Reagan won the Cold War in the 1980s. His administration rebuilt the US military and, in 1983, unveiled a proposal for the Strategic Defense Initiative, later called “Star Wars.” These actions by President Reagan caused President Gorbachev and the Russians to sign the International Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty led to the elimination of many nuclear weapons. The actions of President Reagan were significant, and they were a contributing factor in tearing down the Berlin Wall in 1989. President Reagan’s courage is unquestioned. He was one of the influential figures in the 20th Century. But it is important to note that President Reagan had the full force of the Federal Government shielding him from physical attacks. He had his security forces, a part of the presidency. He also had the added protection of the FBI, the CIA, and other protective agencies. In addition, the legal system protected his rights to be president. Sister Rosa Parks had none of the protections afforded many of the leaders of the 20th Century. She, in many ways, was on her own during that cold day on the 1st. of December in 1955. Dr. Martin Luther King was a young 26-year-old pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery. It was the defiant act of Sister Rosa Parks. She refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus that ignited the flame that catapulted Dr. King to national prominence. The actions of a shy, petite Rosa Parks were more significant than that of President Ronald Reagan and Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. President Reagan’s “Star Wars” initiative addressed the physical protection of the American way of life but did not address the interpersonal relationships of Americans from different cultural and racial backgrounds. Dr. King’s civil rights initiatives addressed the legal rights of all American citizens and started a national debate on race and class. But would Dr. King have achieved his lofty status in life if it had not been for the heroic efforts of Sister Rosa Parks. We must remember that Dr. King did not become prominent in the Civil Rights Movement until he took up the cause of leading a bus boycott to protest the treatment of Sister Rosa Parks on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus. We must remember that in the modern Civil Rights Movement, it was attorney Thurgood Marshall the civil rights lawyer who won the landmark case of Brown versus The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, that banned school segregation in 1954 that initially caused Americans to focus on race relations in the 20th Century. Still, the actions of sister Rosa Parks galvanized the 20th Century civil rights movement. Sister Parks did not have the Prestige of attorney Marshall who later became the first black justice of the Supreme Court. Sister Parks was an unknown American citizen who desired the same rights as others in America. Her actions on a bus on the 1st of December in 1955 made us aware that positive relations with others who may or may not share our heritage or background are essential if we are to live in peace and harmony. Sister Rosa Parks put a human face on the discrimination. She made us aware that discrimination is painful. Countless persons had suffered racial discrimination before sister Parks, but none captured the American imagination like sister Parks. The persistence and dignity of sister Parks affected people on both sides of the color line like no other person in History. Sister Parks did not refuse to give up her seat because she was physically tired. She refused to give up her seat because she was tired of an unjust, unfair system that discriminated against innocent people because of their race. On a personal note, I applaud the actions of Sister Rosa Parks and those of attorney Marshall. Their courage and determination helped to open the doors for my children to receive a balanced education, doors that were closed to my grandfather, who was born in 1882 and died in 1976; he lived in an era when Jim Crow signs littered the American landscape. One poster said White; the other said, Colored. Blacks were denied equal protection under the law. In addition, my grandfather’s taxes supported schools that his children could not attend. He was a brilliant man who could have excelled in any academic field but was denied an opportunity to realize his potential. When sister Rosa Parks struck a blow against discrimination in 1955, my grandfather was 73 years old and had long past his prime. But the actions of sister Parks in 1955 were not too late for his great-grandson, who, in the year 1999, received recruiting letters from MIT (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and many of the Ivy League schools. However, the actions of sister Parks gave his great-grandson the option to say no to MIT and say yes to a school of his choice. He was able to make this choice because a petite lady named Rosa Parks refused to give her seat up on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Take your rest, sister Parks, and thank you for opening the doors of equality for all Americans.