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Rosa Parks and her Significance to the Civil Rights Movement

Rosa Parks was born in 1913; growing up in Tuskegee, Alabama, Rosa Parks dreamed of freedom and equality for African Americans during black segregated times. Her works with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, NAACP trials, and her influence on the younger generation have earned her the prestigious name “Mother of Civil Rights” the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 proved one person can make a difference. Her childhood has been frightening, and many people influenced Rosa Parks during her childhood and taught her to stay strong one of these people was her mother. When she was eleven years old, her mother put her in the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls. This school taught its students self-worth, a philosophy that gave Rosa Parks the strength to overcome hard times. Rosa Parks’ role in the civil rights movement was crucial as it helped change the African-Americans’ lives.

Rosa Park worked in the NAACP (National Association of the Advancement of Coloured People -1909), and she was very significant within the Civil Rights movement. In December 1943, Rosa joined the Montgomery group and was elected as volunteer secretary. She worked with the organization’s state president, Edgar Daniel Nixon. The NAACP played a significant role in the African- American community. The NAACP challenged the right of the local school boards to segregate. On 17 May 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in education was illegal under the constitution. However, many Southern States openly resisted the ruling. By the end of 1956, not a black child attended a mixed school in some Southern States.

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Many African-Americans, like Rosa Parks, were extremely distressed by seen the body of Emmett Till (28th August 1955), a 14-year-old black male; he was murdered by white men who believed that he had flirted with a white woman. This was significant because tens of thousands of black people attended his funeral, and some viewed his casket. Images of his injured body were published in black magazines and newspapers. The rallying of popular black support and white sympathy across the U.S was seen, which gave his case a high priority & publicity. The Highly disturbing Emmett Till murder could be seen as the spark of the rebellion, and like many other African-American, Rosa Park was the one to make the first move to do something. Certainly, the murder was in the back of her mind as she took on the rebellion to give up her seat on 1st December 1955.

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It can be said that Rosa was really influenced by her hatred of the “Jim Crow” laws of the south; the majority of American states enforced segregation through Jim Crow Laws. It segregated busses, restaurants, railroads, swimming pools, toilet facilities, education and many more. After moving to Montgomery, Rosa took a job at the Montgomery Fair Department store, and she travelled the bus each day to work. However, the public buses were still segregated in the South. Rosa Parks was the first of many who confronted the bus driver in 1943, it was raining, and she boarded the bus from the front door, and the driver forced her to depart the bus, but as leaving the bus, she half sat in a white seat at the front. As a result, a diver was angry, and Rosa got off the bus and was left to walk in the rain.

But on 1st December 1955, Rosa Parks’ secretary for the NAACP sat in the ‘coloureds only’ section. Coincidentally the same bus driver, who had thrown her off the bus 13 years earlier, James F. Blake, was driving the bus. As the bus got busier, a white man asked her for her seat, and she refused, therefore breaking the law. She was arrested and fined $10. However, her friends organized a bus boycott until the bus company agreed to seat all passengers on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis. Black customers made up 75% of the Company’s business, so the boycott was very damaging. When she was arrested, it caused an outcry from the black religious community, including Martin Luther King.

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In her autobiography, she wrote, “PEOPLE ALWAYS SAY THAT I DIDN’T GIVE UP MY SEAT BECAUSE I WAS TIRED. BUT THAT ISN’T TRUE. I WAS NOT TIRED PHYSICALLY… I WAS FORTY-TWO. NO, THE ONLY TIRED I WAS, WAS TIRED OF GIVING IN. I KNEW SOMEONE HAD TO TAKE A STEP, AND I MADE UP MY MIND TO MOVE. OUR MISTREATMENT WAS JUST NOT RIGHT, AND I WAS TIRED OF IT”. This shows Rosa wanted all this to happen, but she surely couldn’t have known she would get arrested, which was proven in an interview in 1992; Rosa stated that she did not intend to be disorderly or to get arrested. She was just tired of the oppression that giving in to segregation demands seemed to encourage. As a result, she becomes an icon because of this bus boycott, and it can be seen as a first step to oppose segregation and the start of the civil rights movement.

However, after her 24 hours of arrest, Rosa Parks was bailed out of jail by Edgar Nixon, president of the NAACP and her friend. After Rosa’s bail, the Women’s Political Council (WPC) generated over 35,000 copies of a flyer announcing a boycott of the buses. The significant impact of this bus boycott was the massive financial impact on the bus services since black people in the US made up a huge portion of the bus business. Also, it helped to bring national and international media attention, not just this it made Martin Luther King a minor celebrity. But in 1956, Martin Luther King and 100 other followers were also arrested. The KKK tried to break the boycott with violence and threats, including the bombing of Martin Luther King’s house. Finally, in November 1956, the Supreme Court ruled that busses segregation was illegal and in December, the company gave in. Black Americans had won a famous victory. Rosa Parks’s refusal to give her seat helped significantly towards busses segregation becoming illegal after 381 days.

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Rosa Parks had the courage and bravery to take action. She has been presented with numerous awards for her contribution to building positive change when social inequality. Rosa had a capability for doing this effectively but quietly and was known for her saying, “Do what is right.” As Parks got older, she still worked hard to ensure that she would see the day when African Americans got the rights they deserved. Parks knew the best way to keep the fight going was to inspire the younger generation and also have them join in. So, in February 1987, she founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. Rosa had work really hard in the NAACP, and her institute has inspired young activists. Her role in the civil rights movement has been really significant as she had influenced many other African Americans to stand up for what is right.



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Rosa Parks and her Significance to the Civil Rights Movement. (2021, Aug 30). Retrieved May 27, 2022, from