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NAACP Houston condemns city council member over Rosa Parks reference

HOUSTON – The Houston branch of the NAACP condemned comments made by a Houston city councilor, which compared the violation of social distancing orders to civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

Councilman Michael Kubosh made the comments Friday while addressing reporters outside Federal American Grill in Hedwig Village. The restaurant’s owner reopened the dining room Friday, following weeks of curbside-to-go, in an attempt to follow social distancing requirements established by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

“Sometimes civil disobedience is required to move things forward, so that’s why we remember Rosa Parks,” Kubosh said April 24.

Kubosh suggested business owners’ economic plight brought on by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s social distancing requirements in the fight against COVID-19, and resistance to it was akin to Parks’ battle for equal rights. Parks’ refusal to stand on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, sparked the beginning of what became the Civil Rights movement of the late 1950s and 60s.

Kubosh’s comments aired April 24 during KPRC 2 News at 10 Friday. James Douglas, president, NAACP Houston Branch happened to be watching.

“I was blown away because I couldn’t understand how anyone could make that comparison,” Douglas said.

Douglas penned a three-page response to Kubosh.

“Deeply grieved the hearts and offended many African Americans. Others who are sensitive to the history of African Americans in this country were also disturbed,” Douglas wrote.

The statement then provides a brief history of racial inequality in America, beginning with slavery, leading up to Rosa Parks’ act of defiance in 1955.

“Rosa Parks’ refusal to stand is a very important historical event in the history of African Americans in the United States,” Douglas said.

Douglas said Kubosh’s comparison was racially insensitive and spoke to a lack of understanding about the significance of Rosa Parks and the struggle for equal rights.

“The rule now with social isolation is to protect all of us. And so it’s not a matter of discrimination. I don’t even know how you make that comparison,” Douglas said.

The Houston branch of the NAACP called on Councilman Kubosh to issue an apology. Douglas said while he doesn’t think there was any malice associated with Kubosh’s words, he thinks there needs to be a larger conversation about racial injustice. He welcomed Councilman Kubosh to be part of that conversation.

KPRC 2 reached out to Councilman Kubosh for comment. We have yet to receive a response.