• Reading Level 5

Age 11 – 13: winner

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No.

Isabella, Invicta Grammar School

Winner of the 11 – 13 age category, Celebration Day writing competition 2023

Rosa Parks was a woman with skin slightly lighter than mine, just a little older than my
mother. She spent her days working as a seamstress, at a department store, and at a factory in
Montgomery and was a loyal wife to Raymond Parks, a barber. She earned sparse money but
she and her husband made do with what they had. Even though they had barely anything in
comparison to that of the privileged white people in their society.

It had always seemed wrong to her that her life was so difficult because of an aspect of herself
she didn’t even choose. This is not to say she would change ever change this. Her skin was not
white, but still beautiful and it was hers. But of course there were moments where she
wondered about this. I have those moments where I fantasise about how much easier it would
be to be white. To be able to wear my natural hair and not get asked, “Can I touch it?”. To be
able to not feel forgotten in regulations about how hair can be worn. To be one of them.

But every time I think these thoughts, I have to stop and remind myself just how special and
beautiful my skin is, just as I imagine Rosa would have.

Today, after a long and draining day’s work at school, I saw my bus approach my stop. I could
clearly make out that the bus was crowded with students and workers on their way home. I
exhaustedly stepped on my bus, paid for my ticket, and guess what? I sat where I wanted to.

After a lengthy and draining day’s work at the factory, Rosa saw her bus approach her stop.
Even in the dim light, the silhouettes of several weary figures lounging in their leather chairs
chairs was just illuminated by the candle of a nearby lamppost. She exhaustedly stepped on
her bus, paid for her ticket, and sat on the fifth row, the very front of the ‘Coloured Section’.
Just as she was beginning to settle in her seat, she was approached by the bus driver, white of
course, who asked her to stand so a white man could sit down. Now, I can’t imagine sheer
force of the thoughts that had laid dormant in her mind that were now racing and electrified.
The power of her experiences and of her truth, collected and stimulated. But what I do know,
is that the lethargy she had felt seconds before was gone, and replaced with a tiredness of
giving in time and time again. Of course, she couldn’t have known that the next word she
word say, would make such a difference, have such an impact on people like her. People like
me. She is the start of a movement that allowed me to sit where I wanted on that bus today.
And that is why I will always be extremely grateful and inspired by the fact that Rosa said,

“No.”

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