Dear Lawrence: Freedom and Protest

Dear Lawrence,

We want to know what freedom means to you. Current events, from COVID to the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade, have brought into focus the inequity that Americans still face. One way that “we the people” can rise up against injustice is to assert our right to assemble and peacefully protest, to hold our leadership, our communities, and ourselves accountable.

On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, one woman refused to give up her bus seat. “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” Rosa Parks was arrested and four days later convicted of disorderly conduct. The Montgomery Improvement Project, founded by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., began a bus boycott to show solidarity with Rosa Parks. This boycott lasted 381 days, ending on November 13, 1956, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation on buses was unconstitutional.

The act of a single person can inspire many. There is power in solidarity, even and especially when change requires introspection, risk-taking, and discomfort. Hopefully, we are already reevaluating our interpretations of freedom, equity, justice, and prosperity.

To help open up this conversation further, Dear Lawrence, what does freedom mean to you?

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This prompt will carry through the entire month of June. Please submit stories by Tuesday, June 30th!

Photo by: August Rudisell/Lawrence Journal World