One of the most highly famed civil rights activists, Rosa Parks, was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, on February 4, 1913. She attended local segregated schools, and after the age of 11, the Industrial School for Girls in Montgomery. As a child, Rosa became fully aware of the racism which was deeply embedded in Alabama.
On December 1st, 1955, Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus in downtown Montgomery. She paid her fare and sat in an empty seat in the section reserved for blacks in the back of the bus. As the bus continued, all of the white-only seats in the bus filled up with passengers. The bus reached the third stop in front of the Empire Theater, and several whites boarded with no seats to accompany them. Once the driver noticed a number of white passengers were standing in the aisle, he immediately stopped the bus and asked four passengers, including Rosa Parks, to give up their seats. Three agreed; Rosa did not.
Police then arrested Rosa Parks at the scene. She was charged with a violation of Chapter 6, Section 11 segregation law of the Montgomery City code, even though she technically had not taken up a white-only seat, she had been in a colored section. E.D. Nixon and Clifford Durr bailed Parks out of jail the evening of December 1st. The Montgomery Bus Boycott occurred as a result of Rosa Park’s actions, and was a huge success. The city of Montgomery lifted its enforcement of segregation on public buses on December 20th, 1965.
Rosa Parks received numerous accolades during her lifetime after the boycott, including the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP’s highest award, and the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Award.
Rosa Parks passed peacefully in her Detroit, Michigan apartment in 2005 at the age of 92. She will forever leave a mark of justice and integrity on the hearts of those forced to succumb to segregation and unfair treatment.
Sources used & additional reading:
Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 [Audiobook] by