MONTGOMERY, Ala.: Thousands march to honor Rosa Parks

Dec. 1 was the 50th anniversary of a simple act by a garment worker, Rosa Parks, who sat down in the front of a Montgomery bus so millions could stand up and destroy Jim Crow segregation. Although Parks died Oct. 24, her courage and dignity lives on as thousands of Montgomery students, African American and white, native born and immigrant, marched in her honor on the anniversary of that fateful day.

“Black people didn’t have any rights,” said Byron Burkes, 16, as he marched. “But one lady stood up for one cause and then it just broadened Black people’s horizons. First it was buses. Then it was bathrooms and restaurants. We just wanted equality because we were fed up. This brings us one step closer to having equality everywhere, by bringing different creeds, colors and races together for one cause, for justice.”

Domaris Broadnax, 9, said, “Rosa Parks, she was a great lady. She was the first Black woman to ever change the nation.”

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) joined Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) to place a wreath by the metal sign that marks the place where Parks was arrested. Lewis was beaten for riding on an integrated bus in 1961 and attacked by police for marching for voting rights in 1965. He recalled that he would come home and ask his parents why there was segregation and racial discrimination. “They would say, ‘That’s the way it is. Don’t get in the way. Don’t get in trouble,’” Lewis said. “But Rosa Parks inspired us to get in the way, to get in trouble. It was good trouble. It was necessary trouble.”

In greater Pittsburgh, Pa., the Port Authority, at the request of the transit workers’ union, set aside the front seat on its thousands of buses with a decal, “Reserved for Rosa Parks.” Buses in Austin, Texas, carried a similar message, as did many other city transit systems.

WASHINGTON: GOP medical plan lands with thud

With one month of registration to go, less than 1 in 9 low-income seniors, or 660,000 of the potential group of 5.7 million, have been approved to receive prescription drug benefits from the Bush administration’s drug bill, according to the Social Security Administration.

“The most important part of the new Medicare drug legislation was the special help that was supposed to be made available for low-income seniors,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. “Unfortunately, these numbers are very discouraging, and it now appears likely that many millions of low-income seniors will be without the help they need to make drugs affordable.”

The Alliance for Retired Americans, a union-based senior group, argued that the complexity of the Bush drug bill, known as Medicare Part D, would not benefit retirees and only result in a giveaway to drug corporations, whose profits have skyrocketed.

HAMPTON, Va.: Antiwar students rebuff expulsion threat

In late November, students at Hampton University, members of Amnesty International, attempted to distribute leaflets at the student center protesting the Iraq war. Within 30 minutes, campus police arrived, filmed the students and halted the distribution. Six students received letters threatening them with expulsion.

After a nationwide outcry, the administration backed down. At a Dec. 2 hearing, none of the students were expelled, but five were sentenced to 20 hours of community service. The other received a warning.

The administration of the historically Black university said that their action was about students violating university rules, not their political views. It said groups wanting to hand out information on campus must be officially recognized. The students pointed out they’ve been seeking group recognition for three years.

Sophomore Brian Ogilvie charged that the university’s action was politically motivated. “Fraternities regularly pass out material with scantily clad women portrayed on them, advertising parties and alcohol — without penalty,” he said. “If [administrators] are going to enforce obscure rules, then they have to be consistent.”

WASHINGTON: Bill to protect immigrant children

When Marie Gonzalez, who grew up in Jefferson City, Mo., graduated high school, she couldn’t celebrate. As a child of undocumented workers, she faced deportation. Only mass pressure stopped the deportation proceedings and allowed Gonzalez to start college this fall, but she faces another hearing in July.

Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) have introduced the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, DREAM. The Act would provide children like Gonzalez with access to six years of conditional immigration status, extendable if they continue in college or serve in the military.

The National Council of La Raza supports DREAM. “Young people facing high school graduation and major decisions about college or work should not be asked to wait until Congress resolves all of the vexing immigration issues,” La Raza wrote. “Rather, Congress should act now and take these young people off of the field of battle of the immigration wars.”

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards ( Roberta Wood contributed to this week’s clips.