- NAME: Rosa Parks
- OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist
- BIRTH DATE: February 04, 1913
- DEATH DATE: October 24, 2005
- EDUCATION: Industrial School for Girls, Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Tuskegee, Alabama
- PLACE OF DEATH: Detroit, Michigan
- Maiden Name: Rosa Louise McCauley
- AKA: Rosa McCauley
- AKA: Rosa Parks
- AKA: Rosa Louise Parks
- Full Name: Rosa Louise McCauley Parks
Best Known For
Civil rights activist Rosa Parks refused to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger, spurring the Montgomery boycott and other efforts to end segregation.
Montgomery Bus Boycott (3:51)
Rosa Parks - Legacy (3:03)
Those who knew Rosa Parks personally discuss her legacy and their memories of her life.
For 382 days, almost the entire African-American population of Montgomery, Alabama, including leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, refused to ride on segregated buses, a turning point in the American civil rights movement.
At an early age, Rosa Parks faced injustice wherever she went and decided that by taking action she could change the world around her.
On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and from there sparked a national Civil Rights Movement for racial equality.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Civil rights activist Rosa Parks was born on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her refusal to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus spurred a city-wide boycott. The city of Montgomery had no choice but to lift the law requiring segregation on public buses. Rosa Parks received many accolades during her lifetime, including the NAACP's highest award.
"At the time I was arrested, I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in."
"I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear."
"People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired ... the only tired I was was tired of giving in."
"Each person must live their life as a model for others."
"I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free ... so other people would be also free."
"I'd see the bus pass every day ... the bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black and white world."
“When I thought about Emmett Till, I could not go to the back of the bus.”
“My only concern was to get home after a hard day's work.”
“In a single moment, with the simplest of gestures, she helped change America and change the world.” (Barack Obama)
“The time had just come when I had been pushed as far as I could stand to be pushed.”
“I had decided that I would have to know once and for all what rights I had as a human being and a citizen even in Montgomery, Alabama.”
"I didn’t tell anyone my feet were hurting. It was just popular, I suppose because they wanted to give some excuse other than the fact that I didn’t want to be pushed around.”
“She sat down in order that we might stand up.”
“My resisting being mistreated on the bus did not begin with that particular arrest. I did a lot of walking in Montgomery."
“My desires were to be free as soon as I learned that there had been slavery of human beings.”
“As I look back on those days, it's just like a dream, and the only thing that bothered me was that we waited so long to make this protest and to let it be known, wherever we go, that all of us should be free and equal and have all opportunities that others should have.”
“God has always given me the strength to say what is right.”
“There were times when it would have been easy to fall apart or to go in the opposite direction, but somehow I felt that if I took on more step, someone would come along to join me.”
"When I made that decision, I knew I had the strength of my ancestors behind me."
[On refusing to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger in 1955.]
"I am always very respectful and very much in awe of the presence of Septima Clark, because her life story makes the effort that I have made very minute. I only hope that there is a possible chance that some of her great courage and dignity and wisdom has rubbed off on me."
Famed civil rights activist Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her refusal to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a public bus Montgomery, Alabama, spurred on a citywide boycott and helped launch nationwide efforts to end segregation of public facilities.
Rosa Parks's childhood brought her early experiences with racial discrimination and activism for racial equality. After her parents separated, Rosa's mother moved the family to Pine Level, Alabama to live with her parents, Rose and Sylvester Edwards—both former slaves and strong advocates for racial equality; the family lived on the Edwards' farm, where Rosa would spend her youth. In one experience, Rosa's grandfather stood in front of their house with a shotgun while Ku Klux Klan members marched down the street.
Taught to read by her mother at a young age, Rosa went on to attend a segregated, one-room school in Pine Level, Alabama, that often lacked adequate school supplies such as desks. African-American students were forced to walk to the 1st- through 6th-grade schoolhouse, while the city of Pine Level provided bus transportation as well as a new school building for white students.
Through the rest of Rosa's education, she attended segregated schools in Montgomery, including the city's Industrial School for Girls (beginning at age 11). In 1929, while in the 11th grade and attending a laboratory school for secondary education led by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes, Rosa left school to attend to both her sick grandmother and mother back in Pine Level. She never returned to her studied; instead, she got a job at a shirt factory in Montgomery.
In 1932, at age 19, Rosa met and married Raymond Parks, a barber and an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. With Raymond's support, Rosa earned her high school degree in 1933. She soon became actively involved in civil rights issues by joining the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP in 1943, serving as the chapter's youth leader as well as secretary to NAACP President E.D. Nixon—a post she held until 1957.
The Montgomery City Code required that all public transportation be segregated and that bus drivers had the "powers of a police officer of the city while in actual charge of any bus for the purposes of carrying out the provisions" of the code. While operating a bus, drivers were required to provide separate but equal accommodations for white and black passengers by assigning seats. This was accomplished with a line roughly in the middle of the bus separating white passengers in the front of the bus and African-American passengers in the back.
Visit the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a leading research institute for the history and culture of people of African descent.
Learn more about the lives of African-Americans who have made extraordinary achievements in their fields, with our collection of Black History Groups.
Explore our curated collections of African-American figures, including:
Check out BIO’s original video series, American Freedom Stories, about the historic events of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama, and the leaders and everyday heroes who fought to make racial equality a reality. Watch videos.
Flip through these photos of some of Black History's most important, controversial and inspiring figures. Check out our African-American Firsts - Athletes, Black Comedians, Million-Dollar Ideas, African-American Biopics, African-American Expats, or explore all of our Black History photos.
Celebrate the historical icons of America's black community through this interactive journey.
- Apollo Theater Interactive Tour
- Apollo Theater Timeline
- Path to Equality
- Who Am I Game
- Harlem Renaissance