Rosa Parks Day

December 1

Rosa Parks, 1913-2005

On this day in 1955 a 42 year-old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, made history for something she didn’tdo.

Stand up.

When bus driver James Blake told 4 African-Americans to give their seats to white patrons, 3 of them did so. Rosa Parks, a department store employee on her way home, refused to move. Blake threatened to have her arrested. She replied, “You may do that.”

Rosa Parks wasn’t the first African-American woman to defy Montgomery’s segregated bus system, but hers was the case that captured America’s attention.

Long ago I set my mind to be a free person and not to give in to fear…When I sat down on the bus the day I was arrested, I was thinking of going home…After so many years of oppression and being a victim of the mistreatment that my people had suffered, not giving up my seat–and what I had to face after not giving it up–was not important. I did not feel any fear sitting in the seat I was sitting in. All I felt was tired. Tired of being pushed around. Tired of seeing the bad treatment and disrespect of children, women, and men just because of the color of their skin.

Rosa Parks, Quiet Strength

After Parks’ arrest, Civil Rights activists Edgar Nixon and Jo Ann Robinson organized a one-day boycott practically overnight. What started as a one-day boycott of Montgomery’s bus system lasted 381 days. A young minister from Atlanta named Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was elected to head the boycott. Tens of thousands of African-Americans, who comprised the vast majority of Montgomery bus patrons, walked the long road to work or school rather than ride the bus.

The following year the Supreme Court deemed Montgomery’s bus segregation unconstitutional in Browder v. Gayle.

Parks died on October 24, 2005, just a month before the 50th anniversary of her famous stand–or sit rather.

In 2008, during Barack Obama’s historic election campaign, a short poem traveled across the web and radio:

Rosa sat

So Martin could walk

So Barack could run

So our children can fly.

Cannabis Day

April 20

Yeah, this is supposed to be a school-friendly blog, but the holiday gods don’t have much to offer on April 20, and the most famous birthday today is Adolf Hitler, so Cannabis Day it is.

April 20 has not been declared Cannabis Day, Weed Day, or Marijuana Day by any official government entity—it’s just that 4/20 has become the de facto numerical code for marijuana, though there’s debate as to how this came about.

Investigative reporting by the Huffington Post reveals that the most likely source is a group of teenage friends from Northern California in the 1970’s. The gang would meet after school by a statue of Louis Pasteur at 4:20, not just to partake in the drug of choice, but to engage on an unlikely quest: to find a rumored-about marijuana field supposedly in the Point Reyes region. The rumor was that the grower who had cultivated the field had been called off to the Coast Guard. The field was left unmanned, but no one knew its exact whereabouts.

The teenagers used the code “4:20 – Louis” to designate when and where they wanted to meet up to search for the field. Eventually it was shortened to just 4:20, and long after the search was forgotten, the number became code for smoking herb.

The spread of 4:20 across California and the universe was aided by members and followers of the Grateful Dead who eventually got wind of the code. As early as 1990, flyers passed by Bay Area Deadheads before a concert read:

“We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais…”

The boys never found the elusive marijuana patch (or if they did, they’re not sharing).