To the editor:
Ten years ago my family, including my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and two nieces from Texas were on vacation and stayed overnight at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. While eating breakfast the next morning in the dining room, we were approached by the manager. He told us, "don't be concerned but we have added extra security in the hotel. Rosa Parks is eating here in the dining room and we are concerned about her. She has had some threats. Go ahead and finish your breakfast." I looked around and saw Mrs. Parks eating with two other people in another part of the room. We were the only people left in the room.
I decided the opportunity for my family to meet a living icon was to good to miss. We approached Mrs. Parks' table and introduced ourselves. Although we were clearly intruding, she was very gracious and introduced us to her guests. The one thing I remember most clearly about that brief meeting was that Mrs. Parks seemed to have a calm, almost serene, manner about her. She was somewhat small in stature, spoke in soft voice, but everyone heard what she said.
As we turned to leave, my 8-year old niece suddenly exclaimed "you're dead!" Everyone seemed to freeze in place. My niece went on to say, "We have read about you in school, but everybody we read about is dead." Mrs. Parks chuckled softly and said, "Oh, no, honey, I am very much alive."
Regrettably, Mrs. Parks is gone, but certainly not in the memories of two families from Texas and Lawrence.