Rosa ParksRosa Parks was born on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Today marks the 55th anniversary of the civil disobedience on December 1, 1955 when the seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, became a pivotal symbol in America’s civil rights movement.
Parks never intended to get arrested as she made her way home from work that day. Parks took a seat in the front of the black section of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The bus filled up and the bus driver, James BlakeJames Blake demanded that she move so a white male passenger could have her seat. She refused to give up her seat, and police arrested her. Four days later, Parks was convicted of disorderly conduct.
Parks action was not the first of its kind. It was nine months before Parks refused to give up her seat, 15-year-old Claudette ColvinClaudette Colvin refused to move from her seat on the same bus system. Irene Morgan in 1946, and Sarah Louise Keys in 1955, had won rulings before the U.S Supreme Court, and the Interstate Commerce Commission, respectively, in the area of interstate Bus travel.
But it was Parks disobedience which triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system by blacks that was organized by a 26-year-old Baptist minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King JrMartin Luther King Jr. Parks, the 42-year-old seamstress didn’t know at the time that her acts would help end segregation laws in the South.
The boycott led to a court ruling desegregating public transportation in Montgomery, but it wasn’t until the 1964 Civil Rights Act that all public accommodations nationwide were desegregated.
After retirement Parks, wrote an autobiography and lived a largely private life in Detroit. In her final years she suffered from dementia and became embroiled in a lawsuit filed on her behalf against American hip-hop duo OutKast.
Parks, who died five years ago on October 24, 2005 in Detroit, Michigan, at 92 and her act still has the power to inspire.