How Leaders Can Advocate for Others Like Champions
Becky S. Corbett, MSW, ACSW
Rosa Parks is certainly a leader, advocate, and champion for the civil rights movement. After visiting the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama this past year, I began to wonder, did Ms. Parks set out on an intentional journey—on December 1, 1955—to refuse the order from bus driver, James F. Blake, to give up her seat in the “colored section” to a “white” passenger? How could she have known the bus would be full that day? Where did she get the idea from? Who and what prepared her for that moment? What compelled her to not move?
Then, on the 63rd anniversary of the bus boycott, I read an article titled, Before there was Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin by Glenn Fubler. As I read his first sentence, “On March 2, 1955, a 15-year-old high school student named Claudette Colvin was arrested on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama;” I began to contemplate…it is all about the children. Maybe it was the voice of a young girl who gave Ms. Parks the idea to pursue ten months later. This article reminded me of the power that our children have—they are smart and courageous; they listen to their mentors; and they can lead adults to move to action and make positive change.
As we celebrate and recognize National Social Work Month, I think of Claudette, the students who were instrumental to the Berlin Wall coming down on November 9, 1989, and the teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida who recently experienced a shooting that resulted in 17 students being killed and are now leading the March for Our Lives gun control rally being held in Washington, DC, March 24.
Thank you to Claudette, the students who were present in Germany and the teenagers from Florida for modeling leadership and for being the voice our society needs. In appreciation of my friends and colleges across the globe, Happy Social Work Month and thank you for supporting our children—we need you as leaders, advocates, and champions.
Be a champion, just like our children and social workers, and take a moment to reflect: who will you lead and what will you advocate for TODAY? Share your thoughts and experiences, join the conversation below.