The Legacy Poem originated from a trip back home to Detroit Michigan. James Marshall a friend of mine for over fifty years, and I had gone to the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise, to witness thousands of vehicles and millions of people celebrating “Detroit being the King of the Auto World”. Detroit had the title of “The Motor City” before MOTOWN ever came around. Having worked in an auto plant back in the day, I know first hand, that it was all work and no play.
I suggested that we visit the place with the history where it all started, the Henry Ford Museum. Henry Ford didn’t invent the first car, but he was the one who brought mass production into the auto manufacturing process.
A lot of the writers of the Voices book wrote about mass migration to the North. Black people were looking to escape the Jim Crow laws and a better way of live. The auto industry was a very good draw. All you needed was a strong back and a good work attitude (don’t miss no time and do you job no matter how hard the task).
I read a lot, and I remember some of the history of our past. So, when I saw the bus, I got excited. Rosa Parks simple act of defiance in refusing to obey an unfair law changed the course of American history.
A few weeks later when I returned to Philadelphia PA. I attended a “Locks Hair Convention”. As I was walking around the auditorium before the event started, I spotted a little book with Rosa Parks on the cover. It was titled “Courageous Citizen” by Ruth Ashby.
It had great photos and it was an easy read because it fell under “Juvenile Literature”. However it was a power packed, 124 pages and I highly recommend you add a couple of copies to your personal library today (one copy for yourself and one copy for the kids).
According to the Courageous Citizen book, two Montgomery Alabama bus employees disobeyed orders to dump the old bus into the river. It had been retired from active service since 1971. Instead, they sold the old bus to a State Patrolman named Roy H. Summerford who wanted some old buses for extra storage space.
After Summerford’s death in 2001 the family sold the bus in an auction. The Henry Ford Museum snapped it up and restored it to its 1955 mint condition. When I saw it, it looked brand new. How ironic is it that that one man’s trash, can become a people’s treasure. I asked my friend James why wasn’t the bus in the Charles Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit Michigan since this is where Rosa finally settled. He said that it was in the right place. Her act was so powerful that it changed AMERICAN history.
When I returned back to Philadelphia and the program opened, the key note speaker at the convention said, “The reason we are all here is because of one woman’s defiance, her name Rosa Parks. I looked at his remarks as a message from the Ancestors. His name – Dick Gregory.
They are both gone on to be with the ancestors but they live on in American History.
Earl E. Hackett
Writer, blogger, author