Rosa Parks was an American civil rights activist whose refusal to give up her seat on a public bus precipitated the —56 Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama, which became the spark that ignited the civil rights movement in the United States.
Her father migrated north when Rosa was two years old, and her mother schooled her at home until, at age eleven, she enrolled in the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls. With her husband's encouragement, Parks completed her high school education. Rosa Parks. This booking photo was taken 22 Februaryafter Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger on 1 December in Montgomery, Alabama, inciting what would become the Montgomery Bus Boycott. A member of the St. From the beginning of their marriage Raymond and Rosa Parks embraced social activism, working, for example, to secure the release of the Scottsboro Boysnine black youths accused of raping two white girls.
During the s Rosa Parks ed the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, and as secretary of the branch from until she often hosted the organization's dynamic field secretary, Ella Bakerwhen she visited Montgomery.
Rosa Parks proved adept at working with young people. Indeed, in Parks became one of just a few African Americans who were registered to vote in Montgomery. The registrar had failed her the first two times she took the literacy text. The same determination displayed in her pursuit of the vote surfaced when Parks chose to be arrested rather than to abide segregation on Montgomery's buses.
It is important to underscore the extent to which Parks was anchored to the organizational and institutional infrastructure of the Montgomery black community.
Rosa parks ignites bus boycott
This is essential to understanding why she was able to inspire the modern civil rights movement. Weary of the daily humiliations of second-class citizenship and the indignity of Jim Crow racial subordination, on 1 Decemberthe bespectacled and composed Rosa Parks refused dating comply with the bus driver James F. Blake's order that she give the bus seat she occupied in the first row of the black section to a white male passenger.
Three other African Americans vacated their seats, but Parks refused to move. The city's complex segregation laws dictated that African Americans pay their fares, exit the bus, and reenter through the rear door. Whites enjoyed the privilege of sitting in the front of the bus, and blacks occupied reserved seats in the rear. If the white section filled up and more white passengers boarded the white, the black passengers were required to move. Parks had not planned to disobey the law on that fateful day, but her thirty-year commitment to social justice prepared her to do so.
Indeed, in June Parks had attended a summer workshop at the Highlander Folk School founded by Myles Horton in Monteagle, Tennessee, which had long Rosa a training ground for labor organizers and social activists. Still, at Highlander, Parks, like her fellow activists Ella Baker and Septima Clarkacquired a deeper appreciation of and skills for community organizing, use of direct-action tactics, and administration of citizenship schools.
Their preparation and long involvement in community affairs placed black women at the center of the civil rights movement. For her defiance of the segregation ordinance, the Montgomery police hauled Parks off to jail. Montgomery's police lieutenant, Drue Lackey who served as police chief from totook her fingerprints. Responding to a call from Nixon, the white attorney Clifford Durr took her case, but Nixon posted her bail.
The court found Parks guilty of disorderly conduct and fined her ten dollars and another four dollars in court costs. Rosa Parks was not the first black woman to have suffered arrest for refusal to countenance bus segregation. In an angry mob beat Hannah Cofield before she was arrested for refusing to yield her seat to a white passenger. In Viola White met a similar fate. In Marcha few months before Parks's arrest, Claudette Colvinan unmarried, pregnant fifteen-year-old girl, had objected to vacating her seat and was jailed.
The local black leadership had long debated challenging bus segregation, but decided to wait for an incident involving someone who embodied the politics of respectability and whose private life could withstand relentless scrutiny. Thus, although Cofield, White, Colvin, and later, Mary Louise Smithprotested bus segregation, their resistance failed to ignite a larger social protest movement.
Propitiously, in Julythe U. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, declared in Flemming v. South Carolina Electric and Gas Company that bus segregation, even on buses that operated within one state, was unconstitutional.
I don’t move to the back of the bus?
When the police arrested Rosa Parks, diverse factions within the Montgomery black community swung into nonviolent direct action. On 2 December the Women's Political Council WPCunder the leadership of Jo Ann Robinsonan English professor at Alabama State College, mimeographed and, with two hundred volunteers, distributed more than thirty thousand handbills imploring black citizens to stay off the buses. Negroes have rights, too, for if Negroes did not ride the buses, they could not operate…. Actually, the WPC had long prepared to declare a boycott. Parks's arrest sparked the bus boycott movement that began on 5 December and lasted days, ending on 20 December The black attorney Fred D.
Grayon behalf of the MIA, filed a lawsuit against segregation in federal court on 1 February On 2 June in a 2 to 1 decision, the federal court found the Montgomery bus segregation ordinances to be unconstitutional. On appeal, on 13 Novemberthe U. Supreme Court concurred with the federal court, ruling that racial segregation on public transportation in Montgomery and throughout the South was unconstitutional.
Parks's successful challenge to racial segregation attracted threats of violence and harassment and resulted in the loss of her job as a seamstress at Montgomery Fair Department Store. In Raymond and Rosa Parks and Rosa's mother ed her younger brother, Sylvesterin Detroit to seek jobs and personal security.
For several years Rosa Parks worked as a seamstress.
In she accepted a special assistant position on the staff in the Detroit office of Representative John Conyers Jr. She remained in his employ for nearly twenty years, during which time she assisted Conyers in his efforts to make Martin Luther King Jr. In Parks's husband and brother died. Ten years later she and a friend, Elaine Eason Steelefounded a nonprofit organization, the Raymond and Rosa Parks Institute for Self-Development, to honor her husband's memory and commitment to the struggle for social justice and human rights.
In the last decades of the century Parks received national recognition for her role in the civil rights movement. She also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. On 24 October Parks died of natural causes at her home; she was ninety-two. After lying in honor in the Capitol Rotunda the first woman to be so honoredParks was laid to rest in Detroit, Michigan.
Her funeral was attended by more than four thousand mourners. All Rights Reserved.
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Rosa parks’ early life
Parks, Rosa 14 Feb. With her husband's encouragement, Parks completed her high school education Open in new tab. Further Reading Parks, Rosa. Parks, Rosawith Jim Haskins. My Story Brinkley, Douglas. Rosa Parks King, Martin Luther, Jr. Stride toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story Robinson, Jo Ann Gibson. Thornton, J. Mills, III. Conyers, John F. Gray, Fred D. Oxford University Press. Delete Cancel Save. Close Save.