When I was an undergrad, I worked as a hasher for Stanford University Food Service in Wilbur Hall. One day, probably in 1990, Rosa Parks was in town visiting Stanford to speak at a campus event and was visiting one of the dorms in Wilbur. She was with a group of students and came through the cafeteria to eat dinner on the line I was working that night, and I helped assemble her dinner plate for her. I’m glad her act of defiance many years ago helped bring about change in the world so that it didn’t strike me (or anyone else) that it was odd that a young white kid was serving dinner to an old black lady.
A year later, I was studying in Berlin and came across a section of the Berlin Wall that had been left standing and took a picture of it. I’ve always remembered the words painted on the wall, which are apparently an old African saying, “Many small people, who in many small places, do many small things, can alter the face of the world.” When I read the news that Rosa Parks had passed, this turn of phrase popped in to my head. Farewell, Rosa Parks.