February 4, 1913
Rosa Parks was always an activist for civil rights. She was active in
the Montgomery Voters League and was elected as the secretary of the
Montgomery, Alabama, section of the NAACP (National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People). She worked hard to register to vote
even when in Alabama at that time registering to vote was made almost
impossible for black people. At that time in Alabama, black people had
to use separate public bathrooms, separate entrances to public areas
and separate areas to sit in on buses.
In 1955 Rosa Parks
was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. Although
a lot of history books try to downplay her importance by saying that
Rosa Parks refused to move just because she was tired, she was no more
tired on that day than on any other of her sewing job and life in the
United States at that time.
Her refusal to
give up her bus seat resulted in a boycott of the bus system by black
people, with Martin Luther King Jr. leading the boycott. Within a year
the Supreme Court had declared the bus seat segregation unconstitutional.
Rosa Parks, who
had lost her job because of the boycott, moved to Detroit, Michigan,
the following year, and again took in sewing. In 1965 she was hired
by Congressman John Conyers Jr., also a civil rights leader. She remained
active in the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
(SCLC). In 1987 she founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for
Self-Development for young black Americans.
"Despite the violence and crime in our society, we should not let
fear overwhelm us. We must remain strong."
want to pay my fare and then go around the back door, because many times,
even if you did that, you might not get on the bus at all. They'd probably
shut the door, drive off, and leave you standing there."
- The NAACP's Spingarn
- The Martin Luther
King Jr. Award (1980)
- An honorary
degree from Shaw College
Quiet Strength, Rosa Parks