Rosa Parks’ full name is Rosa Louise McCauley Parks. Parks was born on February 4, 1913 and died on October 24, 2005. Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist and is best known for her refusal to give up her seat on a city bus.
1. The famous bus ride
On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey the driver of the bus who gave her the order to give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Her actions sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This single act of defiance became an important part of the modern movement for civil rights.
2. Collaboration with other civil rights leaders
Rosa parks became internationally recognized as a symbol of civil rights and as a protestor of segregation based on race. She was an active participant in organizations aimed at promoting civil rights. She was instrumental in helping Martin Luther King, Jr. gain a strong presence in the nation.
3. Honors and awards
Parks received a number of recognitions and awards for the role that she played in the civil rights movement. In 1979 she won the Spingarn Medal, she won the Congressional Gold Medal, she is honored in a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol’s National Statuary Hall, and the posthumous honor of lying in honor at the Capitol Rotunda.
4. Bus seat rules
In order to better understand why Parks’ refusal to give up her seat was so meaningful, it is important to know just how the seating rules were set up. In Montgomery, the first four rows of bus seats were reserved for white people. Buses had “colored” sections for black people that were in the rear of the bus. Black people could sit in the middle rows, but would have to move or even get off the bus if a white person needed their seat. Some bus drivers required that the black passengers pay their fare at the front of the bus and then walk outside of the bus to get to the back entrance before taking their seat. Some bus drivers would drive away leaving paying black passengers on the sidewalk.
5. Montgomery Bus Boycott
Following Parks’ refusal to give up her seat and subsequent arrest, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was organized. The boycott was announced at black churches in the area, and a front-page article in the local paper spread the word. Those who attended the rallies prior to the boycott unanimously agreed to continue the boycott until they were treated with the level of courtesy they expected, until black drivers were hired, and until seating in the middle of the bus was handled on a first-come basis. In the end, the boycott lasted for 381 days and ended when the laws requiring segregation on public buses were lifted.
6. The MIA
A new organization was created to lead the boycott. The name given to that new organization was the Montgomery Improvement Association. The members of the organization elected, who at the time was relatively unknown, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
7. International awareness
Parks’ actions brought international attention to the issue of racial discrimination. Her single act became the symbol of the injustices that black Americans were tired of having to endure. The Montgomery bus boycott was also the inspiration for the bus boycott in the township of Alexandria, Eastern Cape of South Africa
8. Browder versus Gayle
This was the name of the federal lawsuit that was brought up as a result of the need for a suit to challenge city and state bus segregation laws
9. The consequences
Although a hero to many, Rosa Parks lost a great deal because of her stand. She was arrested, she lost her job, her husband lost his job, she traveled extensively, and her life from that point on was very public.
Rose wrote an autobiography in 1992 that was aimed at young readers and explained her decision to not give up her seat on the bus. She also published her personal memoirs which she titled, “Quiet Strength.”
Learn more with these Rosa Parks websites.