Dialogue Partners

“History in the Making”

Rosa Parks and SGI President Ikeda recall their life-changing meeting.


In the book Talking Pictures: People Speak About the Photographs That Speak to Them, [1]Talking Pictures: People Speak About the Photographs That Speak to Them, by Marvin Heiferman and Carole Kismaric, p. 198. Rosa Parks chose a photograph from her meeting with SGI President Ikeda in 1993 as one of the most important moments in her life. The following are excerpts from Mrs. Parks’ commentary in the book and President Ikeda’s encouragement about their interaction in installments 88–89 of the “Vow” chapter, from The New Human Revolution.[2]Aug. 3, 2018, World Tribune insert, pp. 7–8. President Ikeda appears under his pen name, Shin’ichi Yamamoto.

Mrs. Parks’ comments in Talking Pictures:

This photograph is about the future, and I can’t think of a more important moment in my life. It shows an unprecedented private meeting I had in 1993 with Daisaku Ikeda, and it reminds us how people of very varied opinions and unique personalities from two different cultures have an opportunity to work together on a mission of world peace.

Dr. Ikeda is the lay leader of millions of Buddhists, and he has traveled the world for more than a quarter of a century, meeting with world leaders, striving for world peace. He said this meeting, between the two of us, was very special for him. It was for me, too. In his concern for human rights, Dr. Ikeda is ahead of many people in this century. He is a calm spirit, a humble man, a man of great spiritual enlightenment. We met for about an hour and talked about my life and challenges concerning the youth in our countries.
We are two people who respect the differences between our cultures. Difference in cultures can and must coexist, but we can come together. Our meeting can serve as a model for anyone. So the photograph of our first meeting is very important because it is history in the making.

In working toward world peace, one begins with self.

When I was arrested Dec. 1, 1955, for refusing to give my seat to a white male passenger in Montgomery, Alabama, no photographers were present. The only pictures taken were mug shots at the police station. Fortunately, those pictures were not put in the paper, but my name and address, and the area where I lived were often published. The same was true of other African Americans. Similar information on white individuals who were segregationists and antagonists to the civil rights movement was not published.

Photo by SEIKYO PRESS.

At the time of my second arrest, in 1956, a photograph of me being fingerprinted was carried on the front page of the New York Times. And the day the buses in Montgomery were finally integrated, reporters from Look magazine waited outside my home until I got dressed, got into a car with them and went downtown, where they had me get on and off buses, so they could take the picture that has become so well-known. Most people think it was my first arrest.

There is still much to be changed in America and in the world. And changes come either by strong encouragement or force. The voting rights bill, desegregation in schools, we know that these things were forced . . .

In working toward world peace, one begins with self. The picture with Dr. Ikeda and me is important to human rights. I’m just another person who was considered a troublemaker instead of a peacemaker. This photograph is another opportunity for world peace.

(p. 10)

Notes   [ + ]

1. Talking Pictures: People Speak About the Photographs That Speak to Them, by Marvin Heiferman and Carole Kismaric, p. 198.
2. Aug. 3, 2018, World Tribune insert, pp. 7–8.