Sixty-seven years ago, a small act would ignite a flame that would change the landscape of America forever. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was jailed for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. Here’s a look back.
Rosa Parks was born on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. She attended a segregated school, which was normal during that time. Then, at 19, she married Raymond Parks, a barber and an advocate for civil rights. It was through her husband that Parks became involved in the civil rights movement. While the couple never had children together, Rosa was nicknamed “The mother of the civil rights movement” because of her dedication and the work she contributed to the movement. It all started on that fateful day 67 years ago. Parks was working as a seamstress and was on her way back home. She was seated in the front row of the “Colored Section” part of the bus, which was the fifth row of the entire bus. All the seats in the “White Section” had been filled, so the driver, J. Fred Blake, asked Parks and three others to get out of their seats so white passengers could sit. This was the law at the time. While the other riders moved, Parks refused.
She was arrested for violating the law, and leaders of the Civil Rights movement decided to use this opportunity to create a case and build momentum. Parks’ refusal to get up began the Montgomery Bus Boycott. A few days later, on December 5, the boycott began. The boycott lasted for over a year, and since African Americans made up 70% of the riders in Montgomery, the city suffered greatly. A young pastor named Martin Luther King Jr. became the leader of the bus boycott and soon after the Civil Rights Movement itself. A year later, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the bus segregation laws in Alabama violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The bus system was desegregated, and the boycott ended. Rosa Parks rode the bus and sat wherever she pleased. After the boycott, the Parks moved to Detroit, Michigan, where they spent the rest of their lives. Her contributions were never forgotten. In 1996, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she was also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Rosa passed away on October 24, 2005.
Parks was a monumental figure who influenced generations to come. On this day in history, we remember all she did by standing up for herself...