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Posted at 10:29 AM ET, 12/ 1/2010

Rosa Parks honored on the Google logo, controversy ensues

By Melissa Bell
Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks (AP)

As well as potentially causing border wars and street fights, Google has now wandered into what I'll affectionately dub "The Logo Wars."

Rosa Parks, the woman who refused to give up her bus seat and helped pave the way toward integration, has been honored with a sketch on Google featuring joyful children getting off a bus, evoking the words of Martin Luther King Jr. "I have a dream that one day ... little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers."


Where's the controversy in that? Patience, grasshopper.

The Google Doodle started out as an insider's joke in 1998. The founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, were going to play hooky and head to the hippie art festival Burning Man. To create a digital "out of office" note, they changed the Google logo to incorporate the Burning Man logo.

Soon, that lark became a holiday celebration, but the popularity of the doodles soon pushed Google into creating logos for all sorts of anniversaries, from Agatha Christie's birthday to the anniversary of the Lego.

In keeping with that grand American tradition of complaining, the doodle has not escaped controversy. Creationists accused Google of celebrating evolution. A Pakistani blogger complained that Ramadan had never been featured. Folks were angry that Google never honored the troops by posting Veterans Day logos. Then, when Google did create a logo for last month's Veterans Day, a national scandal ensued: Was the logo celebrating Islam? (Answer: only if you take a large leap into thinking the red 'e' in Google looks like a crescent moon.)

Now, enter Rosa Parks. It's not the woman who's necessarily controversial. It's just that the date of her famous bus ride happens to coincide with another meaningful day: World AIDS Day.

Google has partnered with (Red), an AIDS foundation, to turn a Google Map world view red, the more people tweet about AIDS, but it did not make any note of the day on its homepage. Complaints have started that Google should have added a red ribbon to its page.

@google It is WORLD AIDS DAY and you guys have not put up the red ribbon. 34 Million people living with HIV/AIDS. Did you know that GOOGLE?less than a minute ago via web

Should Google learn to wield the power of the Doodle more responsibly? Or are these controversies tempests in a teapot?

For more information about Rosa Parks, read this great story about the bus ride that shook the nation's conscience. And for more information about World AIDS Day, see here.

By Melissa Bell  | December 1, 2010; 10:29 AM ET
Tags:  Agatha Christie, Burning Man, Google, Larry Page, Lego, Ramadan, Sergey Brin, United States  
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I like the logo, and I am glad Ms. Parks is honored, and therefore, not forgotten!

Posted by: FoodForThought44 | December 1, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Bell, that is the most grotesque use of "infamous" that I have ever seen, and I've watched the word suffer abuse ever since September 2001. You sound like an old-time segregationist.

Posted by: 1821 | December 1, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

@1821, I apologize for the mistake. Thank you for pointing out my error.

Posted by: Melissa Bell | December 1, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Hey America, lighten up.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 1, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, they can't make everyone happy. If Google were to stop issuing those neat little pieces of creativity someone would probably complain about that, too.

Heck, it'll be me! "GOOGLE HOME PAGE IS BORING! BRING BACK GOOGLE DOODLES! OR I'LL BOYCOTT!! It's stupid that people can't just enjoy things instead of complaining all the time. But that's just me.

Posted by: Clairebell | December 1, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like they should just switch to Yahoo.

Posted by: ozpunk | December 1, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

It's also the start of Hanukkah. Oy

Posted by: pras40 | December 1, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Google should be able to do whatever it wants on its homepage as long as it isn't negative. It isn't a public site, it isn't run by the government. If they don't feel like celebrating Ramadan, so what? If Muslim's want to boycott google because they don't celebrate Ramadan? Again, so what? It's up to both of them.

Posted by: jake8 | December 1, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I thought the controversy would be that the image kind of misses the point about Rosa Parks. We are talking about adults who were forced to give up their seats or ride in the back of the bus due to skin color. The picture shows kids.

Posted by: mnjimmy | December 1, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

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