- 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.
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The MIA believed that Rosa Parks's case provided an excellent opportunity to take further action to create real change.
When Rosa arrived at the courthouse for trial that morning with her attorney, Fred Gray, she was greeted by a bustling crowd of around 500 local supporters, who rooted her on. Following a 30-minute hearing, Rosa was found guilty of violating a local ordinance and was fined $10,
as well as a $4 court fee. Inarguably the biggest event of the day, however, was what Rosa's trial had triggered. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, as it came to be known, was a huge success. The city's buses were, by and large, empty. Some people carpooled and others rode in African-American-operated cabs, but most of the estimated 40,000 African-American commuters living in the city at the time had opted to walk to work that day—some as far as 20 miles.
Due to the size and scope of, and loyalty to, boycott participation, the effort continued for several months. The city Montgomery had become a victorious eyesore, with dozens of public buses sitting idle, ultimately severely crippling finances for its transit company. With the boycott's progress, however, came strong resistance. Some segregationists retaliated with violence. Black churches were burned, and both Martin Luther King Jr.'s and E.D. Nixon's homes were destroyed by bombings. Still, further attempts were made to end the boycott. The insurance was canceled for the city taxi system that was used by African Americans. Black citizens were arrested for violating an antiquated law prohibiting boycotts.
In response to the ensuing events, members of the African-American community took legal action. Armed with the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which stated that separate but equal policies had no place in public education, a black legal team took the issue of segregation on public transit systems to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Northern (Montgomery) Division; Rosa's attorney, Fred Gray, filed the suit. In June 1956, the district court declared racial segregation laws (also known as "Jim Crow laws") unconstitutional. The city of Montgomery appealed the court's decision shortly thereafter, but on November 13, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower court's ruling.
With the transit company and downtown businesses suffering financial loss and the legal system ruling against them, the city of Montgomery had no choice but to lift its enforcement of segregation on public buses, and the boycott officially ended on December 20, 1956. The combination of legal action, backed by the unrelenting determination of the African-American community, made the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott one of the largest and most successful mass movements against racial segregation in history.
Although she had become a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks suffered hardship in the months following her arrest in Montgomery and the subsequent boycott. She lost her department store job and her husband was fired after his boss forbade him to talk about his wife or their legal case.
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