Download “I Was There.mp3

(Want the sheet music?)

A note:  Rosa Parks was not the first person to be arrested for refusing to relinquish a seat on a segregated bus.  In fact, nine months earlier in Montgomery, a 15-year-old girl named Claudette Colvin had done the very same thing.  But while the NAACP very much wanted to bring anti-discrimination cases to trial, Ms. Colvin was deemed an “unsuitable symbol for their cause” when it was discovered she was pregnant (by a much older married man).  There had actually been quite a few potential cases where the NAACP was afraid that the particular protester in question was “less than exemplary,” and might not stand up under cross-examination.

(This is the historical thought that engendered the lyric, “‘Cause God knows/It wouldn’t have/Started with me.”)

MAN 1:

I was there

On the bus

When it happened.

In a way,

It was all

‘Cause of me.

There were three men

Who were standin’ . . .

At the time,

We believed

We were better.

At the time,

We demanded

They move.

And three of them did,

But a woman just slid

To the window . . .

Thank God

No one knows

It was me!

One of three

Who were there

At a crossroads in time

To trigger events

That were waitin’ to be . . .

MAN 2:

I was there

On the bus

When it happened.

An’ I still

Can’t believe

I was there.

There were three men

Who had boarded . . .

An’ they said

That they wanted

Our seats.

An’ the driver,

He tells us

To move.

So three of us did.

I stood up and slid

Past the lady

Who seized on the moment . . .

An’ Lord!

We should thank

God for her!

‘Cause God knows

It wouldn’t have

Started with me.

And who

Would have guessed

That the rest

Of it all

Would occur?

MAN 2:                               MAN 1:

It was just

Another day.                        It was just

A bus ride                            The way things were.

Like so many others.

                                            Just part of the times.

Another injustice.

                                            A small inconvenience.

A minor arrest.


And nobody knew

We had just witnessed hist’ry.

MAN 1:

If I could,

I’d go back

And be diff’rent.

Even if

It was only

For me.

For if one woman

Can change the world . . .