Written by Michelle Kretzer
fitting that Rosa Parks'
birthday, February 4,
has been designated the Day
of Courage. Parks is, of course, famous for her work to end
segregation and racism, beginning with her refusal to give up her bus seat to a
white passenger and continuing with her leadership during the bus boycotts that
followed. But Parks soon broadened her base to include others who needed to be freed
from the yoke of oppression: animals. She was a vegetarian for more than 40 years.
fact, many civil rights leaders, past and present, have maintained that as long
as one form of prejudice exists, no form of prejudice can be completely
eradicated, and thus, civil rights and animal rights are inextricably linked:
Martin Luther King Jr.: "There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe,
nor political, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells
him that it is right."
codepinkhq | cc by 2.0
Walker: "If I'm eating food I know was a
creature in a cage, it brings up memories of segregation and the stories from
my ancestors, of being in captivity and denied their personalities, their true
beings. Animals were not made for us, or our use. They have their own use,
which is just being who they are."
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Chavez: "Kindness and
compassion towards all living beings is a mark of a civilized society. Racism,
economic deprival, dog fighting and cock fighting, bullfighting and rodeos are
all cut from the same defective fabric: violence. Only when we have become
nonviolent towards all life will we have learned to live well ourselves."
Rev. Al Sharpton: "So I say if KFC
wants to take [African-Americans'] money, and use it to pay for sloppy
practices that hurt animals, I say we send them a message that this is not
going to happen. I'm calling on people to boycott KFC until they adopt animal
welfare systems recommended by PETA."
Simmons: "The more I opened myself up to the idea of the full scope
of exactly what non-violence translates to, the less interested I became in
consuming the energy associated with the flesh of an animal that only knew
suffering in his/her life and pain and terror in its death. "
Parks did not just refuse to give up her seat on the bus. She refused to give up her humanity. She refused to accept oppression as "how things are." In honor of her,
please encourage your friends and family to do away with the last of their
personal prejudices by sharing the quotation above that speaks to you the most on
your social-networking sites.
is remembered as one of the most fearless civil rights activists in history. So
it's fitting that her birthday, February 4, has been deemed the National Day of Courage, when we are all encouraged to raise our voices against injustice.
The Henry Ford Museum in the Detroit
area, where Parks spent the latter half of her life, plans to pay tribute to her
with a day of special events. But the museum overlooked an important detail:
Parks didn't harm animals
for food. She was a vegetarian. And a celebration of her life and her legacy should be, too.
So PETA raised our voices and asked the museum to honor all of Parks' convictions by serving vegetarian food.
Parks is, of course, best known for her
work to end segregation and racism. But like her friend, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
Parks soon broadened her base to advocate for all socially disadvantaged
people. And she, like Dr. King's widow, Coretta
Scott King, and his son, Dexter Scott
King, went on to embrace other disadvantaged species.
Believing that animals should also be free from being subjugated and abused, Parks became a vegetarian and King's widow and son both
Not only did Rosa Parks refuse to give
up her seat on the bus, she also refused to go along with the idea that it's OK
to inflict suffering on others for her own ends. In honoring her legacy, we
should do the same.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.