Saturday, December 5, 2009

December 5th in the Urbanist's Calendar

On December 1st, 1995, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, a watershed moment in the modern Civil Rights movement. Protests up that point were important but small: Freedom Riders on a bus, for example, or protesters at a lunch counter. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a mass movement, in which 50,000 people boycotted the bus system for more than a year, until integration was achieved. The mass movement actually started on Monday December 5th. People who were leaders of the movement all described what it was like to wait for the first buses that Monday morning, wondering if the masses of black people would agree to boycott. It was thrilling when the buses started to roll past empty! That night, in the first mass meeting of the Montgomery protest, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., stepped forward to lead the movement. In film of that night, we can see him hesitate for second, knowing that he is changing the course of history and of his own life. He steps forward humbly to do his part. December 5th, then, is an important day in the urbanist's calendar. A quirky aspect of the day in the New York Metropolitan area is that December 5th marks an abrupt shift in the weather, from fall to winter. There is usually a storm on that day. This has frustrated our efforts to have December 5th parties, I can assure you. Just as we know that the first weekend in June is likely to be fine for our Hike the Heights party, we know that December 5th will be blustery for whatever we have planned. In these uncertain times, I found today's snowflakes reassuring. Happy December 5th to one and all!

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