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Leadership from a different perspective – Rosa Parks (Two)

Naked Leader Week – 160 (w/c Monday 12 June 2006)

Leadership from a different perspective – Rosa Parks (Two)

 WOW! Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on that bus not only changed history, it created the biggest response to any naked leader week, ever.

The question I asked was this – what would you have done if you had been on that bus? Given the culture and laws and norms of that society, at that time, would you have supported her, condemned her, or been indifferent?

Many of you said you would have stood up for her, offering your own stories about when you have gone against the majority if you believed something was “right”. However the biggest response was from people who would like to believe that is what they would have done, but could not be sure.

Selecting just one response to share has not been easy. For me, Davis Nellist from England summarises what most of you believe:

Thank you for your response



PS Some of you asked how Olivia did in her History exam – the good news is that most of the questions she had studied for did come up in the exam, which is an experience I have never had!

Like most people, I hope I would have had the courage to stand up and be counted and here I would pay tribute to the courage of Dave Brubeck and many returning WW2 GI’s who actually did stand up for black rights.

 But thinking back to what it was like in the Fifties, I’m not at all sure I would have seen it as that wrong. In the UK the situation was far from satisfactory for the majority of the black population. 

 It’s easy to take a view from today’s standpoint but in all honesty in 1955, I think I may have been tempted to take a stand similar to Martin Neimoller when explaining the woeful lack of resistance to the ever increasing power of Hitler in the 30s, and expressed in such graphic detail in his speech to US congress in the 60s.

 “First they came for the Jews

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Jew.


 Then they came for the Communists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Communist.


Then they came for the Trade Unionists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Trade Unionist.


Then they came for the Catholics

and I did not speak out

because I was a Protestant.


Then they came for me

and there was no one left

to speak out for me.

 Pastor Martin Niemöller”

  It’s easier to do NOTHING!

 David Nellist

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