Rosa Parks, SEPTA, Gun Violence and all things Philly

Posted by Rachel Rose Shalev on Feb 2nd 2023

For as long as we were ever taught about civil rights, I've had an affinity for Rosa Parks. 

Before I changed my name to Rachel I was named Rosa. 

Always the only one in the class.

Always told it was a pretty name. 

Until I got to Israel and for 30 years I was asked why I don't change it.

Eventually I did, and here we are as Rachel Rose, but I still have an affinity for Rosa Parks.

From MLK week in mid January to Black History Month in February, Civil Rights and lack thereof are at the top of the collective agenda in Philadelphia, sometimes above the Eagles, sometimes slightly below, but always at the top. 

SEPTA, the South Eastern Pennsylvania Transport Authority (i.e. the only bus in the city), true to the palpable personality of Philly, has placed a cutout of Rosa Parks in the front seat of select bus lines.

On a less positive note, in January, my synagogue hosted Souls Shot Portrait Project, which features portraits of the year's gun violence victims in Philly, the scourge of our city, painted by local artists after they've connected with the victims' families. 

It is a sad testament to the state of our city that the victims are so very young.

I was present at an evening in which some of the family members visited our synagogue and spoke about their recovery, as well as some of the artists who spoke about their journey to the finished product. 

I participated in a poetry workshop, led by one of the artist poets, where we were encouraged to write our thoughts about the exhibition or the subject matter. 

Here is my poem. It was shared with the rest of the congregation and passed on to the Souls Shot people. Maybe it will be published somewhere. Maybe not.

I hope the words move you in some way, shape or form.