Aurora, Nebraska, UNITED STATES — I remember hearing Rosa Parks’ name for the first time when I was in third grade.
It was black history month and Mrs. Deines raised an old black and white picture in front of the class.
“Does anyone know who this is?” she asked in her nasally voice.
We all leaned forward in our desks to examine the picture. The woman was African American and not that old, her head was turned slightly, and she was staring out a white window.
I had never seen the woman before, and I guess no one else did since nobody raised a hand.
“This is Rosa Parks,” Mrs. Deines said, “and she helped change the world.”
I know what you’re thinking: there’s no way I can remember exact words from a conversation that took place when I was 9. But I do, and it’s because ever since then, I’ve wanted to change the world, too.
I am not an African American, but I am an American.
When Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat she symbolized America , and what it stands for, in the simplest way.
She knew that everyone was created equal, and she knew that she had rights, and she exercised them, and would influence the world forever.
I had always wanted to meet Rosa Parks, to shake her hand and say thank you. I wanted to thank her for making the world a better place to live in, and for taking steps to ensure rights for all.
Now that Rosa Parks has died at age 92, I will never get that chance.
However, generations of children after me will someday learn her name and her importance.
And because of her, perhaps someday I will have the courage to change the world as well.
Zach Brokenrope is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.