I just returned from the grounds of the Capitol. I brought a megaphone and a sheet of paper with the eulogy written on it. I rode my bike down to the grounds and made my way to the front of the line. Moving toward the end of the line, I soapboxed my eulogy to the captive audience of mourners about 10 times to well over 2,000 people.
this is what I said:
Fellow mourners, as you pass by Rosa Parks laying in state, remember that the struggle for civil rights is not over. You the residents of Washington, DC are still second-class citizens who are denied the representational equality given to every other American.
As you walk into the Capitol, a seat of government in which you are still forced to sit in the back of, remember her struggle and think of ways you can carry the torch she lit for us long ago.
The feedback I received was 95% supportive with people staying “That’s right,” “Power to the people,” “Statehood for DC,” “Keep up the fight,” and “Thank You.” About mid-way through the queue, I received a complaint from a woman wearing a hajab saying that this was time for remembrance not a political agenda. I respectfully disagreed, but thanked her for sharing her thoughts with me. Aside from her, no else voiced annoyances and I believe my eulogy was well received. This act was very moving for me, by speaking out before those mourning her, her actions lived through me. As I rode back home I cried as I thought about the civil rights struggle and the institutional complacency that exists today.
The quote from Martin Luther King came to my mind…
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”
I glided home and wrote this. And this.