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Dec. 1, 2011
Justices Speak at 'The Power of One' to Honor Rosa Parks

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor along with Justices Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Judith Ann Lanzinger, and Yvette McGee Brown spoke during a live panel on Nov. 30 honoring Rosa Parks and the road she paved for minorities and women.

The discussion was part of a two-day tribute focusing on Parks and “The Power of One.”

On the eve of Rosa Parks Day, the Justices spoke about how Parks influences their everyday lives.

Earlier in the day Chief Justice O’Connor spoke about the “Power of One.”

“You should never underestimate the power of one, but I think the more difficult thing about the power of one is to decide within you, are you going to be that one?” said Chief Justice O’Connor. “If not you, who? I think that’s what I would equate it with is one person can make a difference. One person often does make a difference, and that one person, whether they want to or not, become a leader.”

Parks is known as “The Mother of the Modern Civil Rights Movement” when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger on Dec. 1, 1955. Ohio was recently recognized in the U.S. Congress as the first state to officially observe Rosa Parks Day. This was the 7th annual celebration of the day under legislation championed by then State Representative Joyce Beatty.

Fifty-six years later, around 800 Columbus students celebrated the civil rights leader during Rosa Parks Day at the COSI Science Center.

There, McGee Brown gave the keynote speech and taught the students about Park’s history, legacy, and through the Dr. Seuss book, “Oh, the Places You will Go,” how the power of one person can make an impact on many.

“Every time you think you can’t be whatever it is you dream to be, you pull out this book and remember the words that Dr. Seuss said to you because each of you has within you the opportunity to be somebody great,” Justice McGee Brown said.

She also quoted from the book “The Help” as she told the students, “No matter what happens in life I want you to remember that you are kind, you are smart and you are important. Don’t let anybody let you think you are not.”

Eight elementary schools sat in during McGee Brown’s talk during Rosa Parks Day while thousands more students statewide saw her presentation streamed live via the Web.