An Ol’ Broad’s Ramblings

May 18, 2007

Rosa Parks Act

Filed under: General News, In Tennessee, Racism — olbroad @ 11:45

Rosa Parks Act granting civil rights pardons goes to Tenn. governor
Long after segregation laws were declared unconstitutional, charges have remained on record of many blacks


Lillie Mae Bradford is downright proud of her criminal record, but she wouldn’t mind an official pardon.

The 77-year-old from Montgomery, Ala., was arrested for disorderly conduct in 1951 for walking to the front of a bus and asking for a transfer. Black passengers were not allowed up front.

As a young sprout in Texas, I remember the segregated buses. I always wanted to sit in the back to look out the window, but my mom wouldn’t let me. There was a line you just didn’t cross.

I have to say, I’m extremely surprised this lady has not been pardoned long before now.

Long after segregation laws were declared unconstitutional, charges against Bradford and other blacks have remained on their records.

But that could change.

It damn well SHOULD change! As long as there was no violence involved, I see no reason for these folks to still have such pettiness still on their records.

Last year, Alabama became first state to pass the Rosa Parks Act, which gives people the option of having their records expunged. Tennessee’s version won final approval in the legislature Thursday and awaits the governor’s signature.

A similar measure failed in Florida.

I have to wonder why it failed in Florida! Perhaps there are too many who still see those who are a tad bit different as second class citizens, or perhaps they fear repercussions? I’m baffled.

Tennessee’s Rosa Parks Act passed the House 88-6 and was approved unanimously in the Senate on Thursday. It now goes to Gov. Phil Bredesen, whose spokeswoman said he had not yet looked at the legislation.

Well, get your rear in gear, read the thing, then sign it! However, I’m a bit surprised at the 6 Republicans who voted against the measure. What is it in the bill that they found it necessary to vote against?

“It’s important because it recognizes that people did risk incarceration for social change and that they ultimately prevailed,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle from Memphis. “They should not have the stigma of that incarceration or be put in the same class as other folks who simply just committed crimes.”

Criminy, I’m agreeing with this guy again.

The Alabama law grants a pardon and sends the criminal record to the state archives to be used in museums or for other educational purposes. Tennessee’s proposal would allow a person to have his or her record destroyed or preserved.

If this is the only ‘crime’ these people committed (perhaps not sitting behind that line on the bus, or drinking out of the “whites only” water fountain – bubbler to you Milwaukeeans), then it should be in the archives if that’s what they want, as a lesson to never go that route again.

UPDATE: I think I might have found the reason those 6 Republicans voted against this Act.

Judicial Council comment: the bill is overly-broad, and indicated that the sponsor may wish to amend it to define the time frame of the convictions to which the bill would apply, to list the specific offenses at issue (whether homicide would be included, for instance), and to explain who determines what qualifies as “protesting or challenging a state law or municipal ordinance whose purpose was to maintain or enforce racial segregation or racial discrimination.” The Council also noted that the bill’s purpose might be better served if it exonerates the persons at issue instead of requiring the destruction of historical records. Finally, the language of the bill which exempts some documents from destruction may inadvertently have the effect of requiring a court clerk to retain documents when current law requires their destruction.

I wouldn’t swear to it, but if I were going to vote against such a bill, the reason would be the lack of a time-line. It could be used to try to excuse other misdemeanor acts long after the Civil Rights Act was signed.  That ‘homicide’ business would bother me too.



  1. Regardless of what was in the bill to get a “Nay” vote, I have to say good luck winning re-election once your opponent puts into an ad that you voted against the “Rosa Parks Bill”…unless of course you are representing a district of “ahem” the less enlightened.

    Comment by Sean — May 18, 2007 @ 12:31

  2. Sadly, there seem to be a lot of the ‘less enlightened’ country wide. I’m going to see if I can find the actual bill. Maybe there is something that was tacked on to it that was irrelevant. Politicians are notorious for tacking stuff on to bills. grrrrr…..

    Comment by olbroad — May 18, 2007 @ 12:49

  3. Don’t worry too much about agreeing with a democrat about this bill. A good idea is a good idea, regardless of origin. Which so many have forgotten in this age of hyperpartisanship. Besides the timeline, those 6 might have voted against it solely because it was proposed by a democrat. Not saying that is why for sure, but it is within the realm of possibility.

    Comment by rosettaresearch — May 18, 2007 @ 1:23

  4. It’s not so much I have a problem agreeing with the guy once in a while. It’s the twice in one day I’m having the problem with. LOL

    Comment by olbroad — May 18, 2007 @ 4:49

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