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Michigan Gov. Granholm: Rosa Parks is "Our Own Gently Powerful War Hero"

StoryNovember 03, 2005
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Jennifer Granholm–the first female Governor of Michigan–spoke at the funeral of Rosa Parks Wednesday. She compared Parks to a war hero and ended by saying, "By your actions [Rosa Parks] you have given us your final marching orders, we are enlisted in this war and on behalf of the state of Michigan ma’am, we are reporting for duty." [includes rush transcript]

  • Gov. Jennifer Granholm, (D–Michigan) speaking Nov. 2nd, 2005 in Detroit, Michigan.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Among other speakers at Rosa Parks’s funeral was Jennifer Granholm, the first female governor of Michigan, elected in 2002. This is a part of what she had to say.

GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM: Rosa Parks stands for every one of us improbable warriors in every seemingly small moment where truth and justice are at risk. She offered every one of us this example of a splendid paradox, the paradox of quiet strength. No more quiet than strong, certainly no more strong than quiet, each reinforcing the other. She was powerful because she was improbable. She was unexpected. She was untitled. And what has been written of Gandhi is certainly true of Rosa Parks, that her greatness — her greatness lay in doing what everybody could do but doesn’t.

We will all say today that the greatest tribute that we could pay to our improbable warrior is to continue battling and to do so in a way that honors her life. And I, like you, imagine a day when the war will be won, when a brilliant eight-year-old chess player has the same chances in life whether she lives in Livonia or off of Livernois, whether the — We know that this war will be won when the son of a barber on Grand River receives from each of us the same looks of hope and words of encouragement as the son of a doctor in Grand Rapids. We know that the war will be won when the City of Bloomfield Hills and the City of Detroit have the same college graduation rates and the same low prison incarceration rates, as well.

We know that we will be winning Mrs. Parks’s war, our war, when it’s yesterday’s news that a newly-elected governor or senator or president is a woman or a person of color. Yesterday’s news. We know that we will be winning the war when people in the state of Michigan do not have to vote on whether diversity in our university classrooms is a good thing. We know we will see signs that we are winning this war when love overwhelms fear and acts of quiet strength become our daily bread.

So, goodnight, Mrs. Parks, from the State of Michigan to our own gently powerful war hero, because by your actions you have given us your final marching orders. We are enlisted in this war, and on behalf of the State of Michigan, ma’am, we are reporting for duty.

AMY GOODMAN: Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Rosa Parks spent much of her life in Detroit, Michigan.

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