Rosa Parks is an extraordinary person because she stood up against racism and stood up for herself. It was even harder for her because she is a woman, and in those days, things were much harder for woman. Rosa Parks hated the ways of her life. She had always dreamed of having freedom in her life. As she grew up, she went through different experiences that gave her courage and strength.
One day, Rosa Parks had so much courage and strength that when her bus arrived to pick her up, she got on the bus, put her money in the slot, and sat in the front of the bus. Black people were supposed to sit in the back. The bus driver told her to move to the back, but she just sat there and refused to move. The driver called the police and they arrested Rosa Parks.
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The next day, Raymond Parks went to pick up Rosa from jail. When they got home, Rosa spoke about her time in jail. She had stood up to get a drink of water and the guard told her the drinking fountain was only for white people. This made her furious.
On December 5, 1955 Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and JoAnn Robinson looked out of their windows and stood on street corners watching all of the yellow buses drive by. There were hardly any black riders since Rosa Park’s arrest. It was a miracle. People stopped riding the buses all because of Rosa Parks.
Soon, the police were informed of the people standing on the street corners watching the buses drive by. The police watched the streets to make sure that the black people were not bothering the other bus riders. They tried guarding the bus stops. The police failed and the boycott was a success. A few months later, Rosa Parks once again started to climb aboard a bus. She stopped when she noticed a sign that read, “People don’t ride the bus today. Don’t ride the bus for freedom.”
Finally, the rules for riding the buses were changed.
1. Black and white people could sit wherever they wanted to sit.
2. Bus drivers were to respect all riders.
3. Black people were now allowed to apply for driver positions.
A lot of people wrote hate mail to Rosa Parks. Some people called and threatened her and her family. She and her family were scared. They knew they were in serious danger, but, Rosa Parks would not give up. Rosa Parks became a great hero.
In 1979, Rosa Parks received the Spingarn medal. In 1980, at the 25th-anniversary celebration of the Bus Boycott, Rosa Parks was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. nonviolent-peace prize. In 1984, Rosa Parks was given the Eleanor Roosevelt Woman of Courage award. Rosa Parks is known as a national hero and as a shy girl who stood up against racism and fought for freedom.
Rosa Park’s protest stimulated a growing movement to desegregate public transportation and marked a historic turning point in the African American battle for civil rights at the end of the reconstruction era, African Americans were considered second-class citizens both economically and politically. Jim Crow laws and black codes prevented Blacks from obtaining their rights as citizens. It was not until the 1950s and 1960?s that blacks began to fight for equal opportunities. One individual who was one of the first to start the civil rights movement was an African American woman from Montgomery, Alabama.
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a bus after a long day of work. Rosa sat in a row of seats just beyond the section of a bus that was designated for whites only. When a white man boarded the bus and was unable to locate an empty seat, the bus driver told Parks and the others seated by her to give up their seats for him. Rosa refused. Despite the adversity in Rosa?s refusal, she continued to fight for what
she believed in. In Quiet Strength, (Zondervan Publishing House, 1994) a book later written by Rosa Parks, she explains, “Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it. I kept thinking about my mother and my grandparents, and how strong they were.
I knew there was a possibility of being mistreated, but an opportunity was being given to me to do what I had asked of others.” Her protest stimulated a growing movement to desegregate public transportation and marked a historic turning point in the African American battle for civil rights.
After Rosa park’s arrest, African Americans wanted to continue the civil rights movement that Rosa established. Blacks throughout the entire town of Montgomery attended a meeting at which they decided to boycott the use of buses as transportation. As a result, the bus company lost much of its business because blacks made up the majority of those who used buses. Their boycott lasted an entire year until finally, the courts ruled that segregation in public transportation was illegal.
Consequently, during their first meeting in Montgomery, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. surfaced as a civil rights movement leader. He along with other African-American community leaders held another meeting to organize future action. They named their new organization, the Montgomery Improvement Association, and Dr. King was elected as its president.
Soon After, King urged African Americans to use peaceful means to achieve their goals. In 1960, a group of black and white college students organized the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to help in the civil rights movement. They joined with young people from the SCLC, CORE, and the NAACP in staging sit-ins, boycotts, marches, and freedom rides. During the early 1960s, the combined efforts of the civil rights groups ended discrimination in many public places, including restaurants, hotels, theaters, and cemeteries.
In 1957, Congress passed the first civil rights law since the Reconstruction. The act created a civil rights division in the Department of Justice to ensure that everyone received constitutional rights. Later, In Little Rock, Arkansas, the first all-white school became integrated and nine black students were admitted into the all-white Central High School.
In conclusion, these acts mentioned above were just the beginning of the civil rights movement. But, this movement would not have occurred if it hadn’t been for Rosa Parks. As a result of Rosa Parks? act, a citywide boycott of the bus system occurred lasting more than a year. The boycott raised an unknown clergyman named Martin Luther King, Jr., to national prominence and resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation in city buses.Over the next four decades, she helped make her fellow Americans aware of the history of the civil rights struggle.
This pioneer in the struggle for racial equality is the recipient of innumerable honors, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize. She is an example of courage and determination and an inspiring symbol to all Americans to remain free.
Rosa Parks has been known for decades as the African American woman who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. This bold move triggered bus boycotts all throughout the city. She is known now as a civil rights activist that was a significant driving factor behind the desegregation of public facilities in the South. Parks was not the first black woman to refuse her seat to a white man, but yet she was seen as an inspiration (Klein 2013). There was something about her overwhelming courage, dedication, and pride that made her a leader all throughout the country in a matter of hours.
Rosa Parks was an African American woman who was born in Tuskegee, Alabama on February 4, 1923. Her desire to push for civil rights came from her grandparents, whom she lived with as a child. They were former slaves that would constantly preach to Parks about the importance of equality (“Rosa Parks Biography”). She attended a segregated school but received a fairly good education. By the time she was an adult, she found herself in Montgomery, Alabama working as a line-worker in a textile factory (“Rosa Parks Biography”).
She began her life as an outward civil rights activist in 1943 by joining the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, also known as the NAACP (“Rosa Parks Biography”). She was actively involved in the organization; she was the secretary of the president and was a youth leader throughout the organization. As far as Parks was concerned, if there was a will then there was a way and she was going to change the world by advocating civil rights. Parks was a determined, articulate, and brave young woman that was willing to do whatever it took to be equal.
On December 1, 1955, Parks got on a segregated bus after a long day of hard work. At this time, the social norm was for the whites to sit at the front of the bus while the blacks sat at the back. Parks boarded the bus and sat at one of the seats closest to the front that was still designated for blacks. Once the bus began to fill, the bus driver realized several whites were standing, waiting for seats, while many blacks were comfortably seated. At that point, the bus driver asked Rosa to give up her seat to the white citizens that were standing; Rosa refused.
She felt that she should not have to give up her seat (“Rosa Parks Biography”). First and foremost, it was wrong to treat any race inferior to the other. But secondly, Rosa was seated in an “African American section.” She was seated where she was told to be seated, so why should she have to get up? The bus driver called the local police on Parks and she was arrested shortly after the incident but was released on bail that same night (“Rosa Parks Biography”).
Parks has since been treated as a hero, but a lot of the information taught about Parks is incorrect or speaks only the half-truth. The first truth to be told is that Parks was not the first African American woman to not want to give up her seat. There were three other women prior to her: Aurelia Browder, Mary Louise Smith, and Susie McDonald (Klein 2013).
The second truth is that this act of civil disobedience was in no way premeditated. Parks did not know that she was going to be standing up for a cause she believed in that day. She simply had gotten on the bus and was not willing to be disrespected yet again. The third truth, and perhaps the largest in my opinion, is that Parks did not refuse to give up her seat due to her being tired. She even wrote in her own autobiography, “No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in. (Klein 2013)”
I feel that Parks was not taught in her correct historical context because she was meant to be a one of a kind, a true leader. The people needed Parks to be the spark of a revolution. If people were told that others had done the same as her prior and she had it planned for months, it would not seem as heroic. I believe that over time, the myths continued and began to spiral out of control. Parks was an incredible woman and I am very happy she was able to start a civil rights revolution, but I also believe her acts were greatly exaggerated. People wanted someone to stand up to the mistreatment, someone who feared nothing but fear itself, and someone who did what they always couldn’t; they made Parks this woman.
After Parks’ encounter on the Montgomery bus, president of the NAACP, E.D. Nixon, began organizing a boycott of city buses all throughout Montgomery with Martin Luther King Jr. as the leader. He began placing local ads to urge other African Americans to stay off of all city buses on December 5, 1955; the day of Parks’ trial. There was a great success with over 40,000 African American commuters who supported Parks and her actions (“Rosa Parks Biography”). Since the initial boycott was so successful, the boycott continued with great success for many months.
The buses sat empty and the city began wasting tax dollars on nothing. There were revolts throughout the city to protest the boycott, but the African Americans pressed on. By June 1956 racial segregation was deemed unconstitutional by the Montgomery district court (“Rosa Parks Biography”). Finally, after legislation was passed, bus segregation was ended all throughout the city so the boycott continued until December 20, 1956; lasting a total of 381 days of protest thanks to Parks and her incredible courage.
In later years other campaigns, such as the “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” campaign, used the Montgomery bus boycott as leverage. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, this campaign was launched to urge blacks to not shop in white stores throughout their neighborhoods that they were incapable of working at (“Don’t Buy…”). As far as these citizens were concerned, why bother giving a store business when they are ignorant and refuse to let the community work within the business?
The NAACP was also behind this campaign; urging the citizens to commit to a mass civil rights protest that could change the country, just like the Montgomery bus boycott. Thankfully for them, it did change the views of the people just like the prior campaign. Whites had no choice but to hire blacks for skilled and white-collar positions if they wanted to stay in business (“Don’t Buy…”). The campaign was a bustling success that once again showed the importance of peaceful protest and black activism.
While there were dozens of people involved in the fight against segregated buses in cities all over America the majority seems to focus on Rosa Parks. I feel this is because Rosa parks just so happened to be in the right place at the right time. Parks did this right in the most oppressed time for African Americans in the South. While slavery was no doubt an absolute tragedy, there is nothing more frustrating than being told you are free and yet still being treated as an inferior being. Parks was sick of it and so was everybody else; the only difference was that she decided to take a stand (or rather a seat).
As I had mentioned prior, E.D. Nixon and the NAACP were leaders in the fight against segregation yet they are rarely mentioned by scholars today. Nixon was the president of the NAACP and he arranged countless boycotts, rallies, civil disobedience movements, and personally dedicated his life to the cause.
They were determined people who wanted to get all of the African American citizens fighting for legitimate freedom. Nixon and the NAACP did not want to sit back and accept this life of turmoil for what it was; they wanted action. As the old saying goes, “If you want something done right then you just have to do it yourself.” Nixon and the NAACP was a genuine example of this expression.
Rosa Parks was an incredible woman with the opportunity to help direct the masses in a fight for equality. She did more than just refuse to give up a seat on a bus; she began a revolution. She taught tens of thousands of people what it can mean to stand up for not only a cause but a dream. While Rosa is a true inspiration she did not do it on her own.
She had the help of E.D. Nixon and the entire NAACP. With their help, she managed to gain local support and begin the Montgomery bus boycotts that changed segregation legislation forever in the South. The Montgomery bus boycott strategy was used many years after in a variety of situations pertaining to more than just black activism. Parks was a true inspiration and leader with a heart full of courage, faith, and determination.
Rosa Parks: My Story is an autobiography written by Rosa Parks herself alongside Jim Haskins, an African American author. It was dedicated to her mother, Leona McCauley, and her husband, Raymond A. Parks. Rosa Parks is mostly known for taking her courageous stand to a white man on a segregated bus. This book focuses on not just one of her courageous acts of defiance, but all of them, while also telling us more about her life story and her fight to end discrimination.
Rosa Parks was raised in her grandparents’ house in Pine Level, in Montgomery County, Alabama. Her mother, Leona Edwards, was a teacher and her father, James McCauley, was a carpenter and builder. Rosa was born on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama, and has a younger brother named Sylvester. Her family moved several times but ended up in Pine Level. Her father left to find work and she did not see him again until she was an adult and married. She lived with her mother’s family, and her grandfather instilled in the family that none of them should “put up with bad treatment from anybody.” So from there on out, the advice stuck with her.
Rosa Parks was raised in her grandparents’ house in Pine Level, in Montgomery County, Alabama. Her mother, Leona Edwards, was a teacher and her father, James McCauley, was a carpenter and builder. Rosa was born on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. She was a small and sickly child. She had a younger brother named Sylvester. Her family moved around a lot while she was younger, but ended up in Pine Level. Her father left to find work and she did not see him again until she was an adult and married. She had learned a great deal about her mother’s family history while living with them. Her grandfather instilled in the family that none of them should “put up with bad treatment from anybody.” So from there on out, the advice stuck with her.
Parks believed that because she had to protect her little brother, it helped her to learn how to protect herself. She also believed that she knew what was fair, but felt that her attitude would sometimes lead her to trouble. Parks was still small at age 6 and had chronic tonsillitis and slowed growth. She attended school in the only one-teacher black school in Pine Level. She knew how to read before even entering school with the help of her mother. Parks became very aware of her black and white surrounding peers. She also worked as a field hand-picking and chopping cotton.
Rosa’s mother was her teacher until age 11. She was then sent to Montgomery Industrial School where she attended her first public school and had her first Caucasian teacher. With her tonsillitis, she was out of school for quite some time, which set her back a year. Her mother paid her tuition to go to school, but eventually, Parks had to become a scholarship girl. When her mother found out she had to walk through white neighborhoods to get to school, she decided that Park’s should return and move back in with her cousins.
School in Montgomery taught her that she was “a person with dignity and self-respect, and [she] should not set [her] sights lower than anybody else just because [she] was black.” For 10th and 11th grade, she went to Alabama State Teachers’ College for Negroes, but end up dropping out at the age of 16. She returned to Montgomery and get her first “public” job. She was upset about dropping out of school, but it was to help her grandmother. She later finished school after she was married.
A mutual friend introduced her to her husband. His name was Raymond Parks and he was a member of the NAACP. They got married in December of 1932 in Pine Level in her mother’s house. She went back to school to get her diploma and became a helper at St. Margaret’s Hospital. In 1941, she got a job at Maxwell Field, the local Army Air Force base. Her husband was an active member, which she knew was extremely dangerous, but did not mind. Although she did not mind, when he would go to his meetings, she would often wonder if he would come home alive.
In the South, blacks’ did not vote, so Rosa’s husband got involved with voting registration. He was finally registered for the first time in Detroit, Michigan. With high hopes, Rosa Parks tried to register to vote but got denied. She also tried a second time but was told she didn’t pass, with any specific reason as to why. Apparently the registrars could say and do whatever they stop blacks from not registering.
The second attempt at registering to vote, she got kicked off of a Montgomery city bus because she refused to follow the “special black people rules.” The first front seats were reserved for whites and the back seats for blacks. The blacks got on and paid their fee, but had to get back off and enter through the back of the bus. Parks did not feel the need to get back off and enter through the back, so the bus driver got angry with her and told her to get off the bus. She did, but she agreed to always look at the person driving the bus before getting back on because she did not want to have another run-in with that same bus driver.
She was a member of the NAACP, and eventually became the secretary. Her main role was to keep a record of any cases of discrimination or unfair treatment or acts of violence against blacks. Her other duties were to record and send membership payments to the national office, answer phones, write letters, and send out press releases to the newspapers. Many of the cases were thrown out, and much history was lost. The reason for keeping them was to let it be known that blacks did not wish to be treated like second-class citizens anymore.
Her brother, Sylvester, was drafted into the army in the early 1940’s and had a hard time adjusting when he returned home. Many black World War II veterans tried to register to vote, but were denied and treated with extreme disrespect, especially if they were in uniform. In the year 1949, Parks was the secretary of the Senior Branch of the NAACP and the adviser of the NAACP Youth Council. Virginia and Clifford Durr wanted to help Park’s end segregation. She visited Highlander to attend the workshops and was there for 10 days. Most of the workshops she went to were about desegregating schools. It was the few times in her life that she did not feel any hostility from whites.
A group of activists took a petition to the bus company officials and the city of officials. The petition was asking for more courteous treatment and no visible signs of segregation. When Parks got off of work on December 1, 1955, she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. The bus driver was the same driver who kicked her off the first time, 12 years earlier. She was brought to jail. From then on, she never wanted to ride another segregated bus, even if that meant she had to walk to work. Mr. Nixon asked if she would be willing to make her case a test case against segregation. She agreed to it.
Mr. Nixon would report that Parks was the perfect plaintiff. She had no police record and had worked all of her life and had no children. She was found guilty of violating the segregation laws and given a suspended sentence. The crowd reacted negatively, but there was no organized protest. A brand new organization (MIA) was organized and Dr. King was elected president. The situation to carry out the bus boycott was discussed in the newly formed organization.
The bus boycott was still in effect, and both Parks and her husband lost their jobs, but were not fired. Parks started to travel and make speeches about her arrest and the boycott. She was on the executive board of directors of the MIA and also worked as the dispatcher for the MIA Transportation Committee. She went back to Montgomery and was invited to visit the Highlander Folk School in December. She believed that she was invited there to encourage them not to give up on integrating the schools. Also, African Americans in other cities such as Birmingham, Alabama, and Tallahassee Florid, started their own segregated bus boycotts.
Blacks were harassed in Alabama after the boycott ended, therefore, Park’s and her brother rented an upper apartment in Detroit in 1957 and lived with Park’s husband and mother to ensure a better life. She visited Boston, Massachusetts where she met the president of Hampton Institute, a black college in Hampton, Virginia. She was offered a job as a hostess. Back in Detroit, she attended SCLC conventions, marches, and demonstrations. She spoke at the 7th annual convention in Richmond, Virginia, and also attended the March on Washington to push for federal civil rights laws.
John Conyers asked for Parks endorsement. He won the election and he asked Park’s to work for him in his office in Detroit. She was the receptionist, office assistant, and helped find housing for the homeless. Parks felt as though she was losing everyone that she felt was good: Dr. King, Robert Kennedy, her husband, brother, and mother all in a short time frame. She founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development in hopes to make the institute a community-center environment that will offer programs for the youth to help them further their education and provide hope for their future.
One Person’s Belief: The Story of Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement
“My feets is weary, but my soul is rested.” This quote summarizes how Rosa Parks felt after her victory for the advancement of African Americans in society. Rosa Parks’ simple act of protest galvanized America’s civil rights revolution. Mrs. Parks is best known for her refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama.
The civil rights movement originates back to the Reconstruction Era of 1865 to the 1890’s. It had its roots in the Constitutional Amendments enacted during this period. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment expanded the guarantees of federally-protected citizenship rights, and the Fifteenth Amendment barred voting restrictions based on race. Reconstruction radically altered social, political, and economic relationships of blacks in the South and in the nation. Former slaves participated in civic and political life throughout the South and for the first time in the South, a system of universal free public education was available.
The blacks’ new vision of citizenry competed with the Democratic Party’s politics of “redemption,” which promised the restoration of white superiority and “home rule” for Southern states. As Democrats regained control of state governments throughout the South, the Ku Klux Klan and other vigilante groups sought to drive blacks from political life through a relentless campaign of fraud and violence. A combination of municipal ordinances and local and state laws mandating racial segregation ultimately permeated all spheres of public life. The Supreme Court, in rulings such as Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), upheld the South’s “new order,” which essentially nullified the constitutional amendments enacted during Reconstruction.
By the dawn of the new century, government and politics had become, as one historian observed, “inaccessible and unaccountable to Americans who happened to be black.” During the age of Jim Crow, black rallies were a part of everyday life. While the rudiments of citizenship expired, black protest against new laws segregating streetcars spontaneously erupted in locally organized boycotts in at least 25 Southern cities from 1900 to 1906. Some boycotts lasted as long as two years, but these protests failed to stem the tide of segregation. Meanwhile, lynching and other forms of antiblack violence and terrorism reinforced legal structures of white domination.
Black leaders and intellectuals continued to debate a broad range of political strategies. There was, for example, the accommodationism and self-help advancement by Booker T. Washington and others, the civil rights protests advocated by Ida B. Wells and W. E. B. Du Bois, and the nationalist and emigration movements promoted by leaders such as Henry McNeal Turner. These overlapping and sometimes contradictory approaches revealed the tensions and challenges inherent in what often was a daunting effort: how to build and sustain black communities amid the crushing environment of white racism while envisioning a way forward.
During this period of white racism, many groups were formed to help and protect African Americans such as the NAACP. During the war years, NAACP membership soared to nearly 400,000 nationally, and the rate of growth in the South surpassed that in all other regions. Having reported 18,000 members in the late 1930s, the NAACP claimed 156,000 members in the South by the war’s end. In the years to come the NAACP will prove to be quite successful and help lead many boycotts which will eventually lead to the end of segregation.
During the 1950s the struggle against Jim Crow in the South remained distant from national issues and concerns. Meanwhile, whites responded to the steady migration of Southern blacks to Northern cities by extending patterns of racial segregation and black exclusion in housing, employment, and education.
The foundation of the Civil Rights Movement remained anchored in the cumulative gains of the NAACP legal campaign and its extensive network of branches. Southern NAACP leaders, however, faced a broad defense of racial status. In 1951 the Christmas Day assassination of Harry T. Moore, a leading NAACP organizer in Florida, and his wife inaugurated a decade of white terrorism and state-sponsored repression that heightened in the aftermath of the Brown decision.
On December 1,1955, Rosa Parks, a local NAACP leader in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to surrender her seat on a city bus to a white man. This action, and the mobilizing work of the Women’s Political Council, sparked a boycott of Montgomery buses that lasted for 381 days. Local black leaders elected Martin Luther King Jr., the new 26-year-old minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, as head of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), the organization that led the boycott and sued to end segregation on the buses.
Hundreds of African Americans, mostly women, walked several miles to and from work each day; as one woman commented, “My feet is tired, but my soul is rested.” This dignified protest contrasted with the city’s efforts to intimidate the MIA leadership through indictments, injunction, and the bombing of King’s house, and it attracted the attention of the national and international media.
Many people believe Rosa Parks’ decision to stay seated on the bus did not officially start the civil rights movement but perhaps it occurred in 1949 when a black professor Jo Ann Robinson absentmindedly sat at the front of a nearly empty bus, then ran off in tears when the bus driver screamed at her for doing so. Or maybe it started in the early 1950s when a black pastor named Vernon Johns tried to get other blacks to leave a bus in protest after he was forced to give up his seat to a white man, only to have them tell him, “You ought to know better.”
The story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott is often told as a simple, happy tale of the “little people” triumphing over the seemingly insurmountable forces of evil. The truth is a little less romantic and a little more complex.
The simple version of the story leaves out some very important people, such as Jo Ann Robinson, of whom Martin Luther King, Jr., would later write, “Apparently indefatigable, she, perhaps more than any other person, was active on every level of the protest.” She was an educated woman, a professor at the all-black Alabama State College, and a member of the Women’s Political Council in Montgomery.
After her traumatic experience on the bus in 1949, she tried to start a protest but was shocked when other Women’s Political Council members brushed off the incident as “a fact of life in Montgomery.” After the Supreme Court’s Brown’s decision in 1954, she wrote a letter to the mayor of Montgomery, W.A. Gayle, saying that “there has been talk from 25 or more local organizations of planning a city-wide boycott of buses.” By 1955, the Women’s Political Council had plans for just such a boycott. Community leaders were just waiting for the right person to be arrested, a person who would anger the black community into action, who would agree to test the segregation laws in court, and who, most importantly, was “above reproach.” When fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin was arrested early in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat, E.D. Nixon of the NAACP thought he had found the perfect person, but Colvin turned out to be pregnant. Nixon later explained, “I had to be sure that I had somebody I could win with.” Enter Rosa Parks.
On Thursday, December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a city bus and sat with three other blacks in the fifth row, the first row that blacks could occupy. A few stops later, the front four rows were filled with whites, and one white man was left standing. According to law, blacks and whites could not occupy the same row, so the bus driver asked all four of the blacks seated in the fifth row to move. Three complied, but Parks refused. She was arrested.
When E.D. Nixon heard that Parks had been arrested, he called the police to find out why. He was told that it was “none of your damn business.” He asked Clifford Durr, a sympathetic white lawyer, to call. Durr easily found out that Parks had been arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus. Nixon went to the jail and posted bond for Parks. Then he told her, “Mrs. Parks, with your permission we can break down segregation on the bus with your case.” She talked it over with her husband and her mother, then agreed.
That night, Jo-Ann Robinson put plans for a one-day boycott into action. She mimeographed handouts urging blacks to stay off the city buses on Monday when Parks’ case was due to come up. She and her students distributed the anonymous fliers throughout Montgomery on Friday morning. That evening, a group of ministers and civil rights leaders had a meeting to discuss the boycott. It did not go well. Many ministers were put off by the way Rev. L. Roy Bennett took control of the meeting. Some left and others were about to leave.
When the boycott began, no one expected it to last for very long. There had been boycotts of buses by blacks before, most recently in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1953. On Thursday, December 8, the fourth day of the boycott, King and other MIA officials met with officials and lawyers from the bus company, as well as the city commissioners, to present a moderate desegregation plan similar to the one already implemented in Baton Rouge and other Southern cities, including Mobile, Alabama.
The MIA was hopeful that the plan would be accepted and the boycott would end, but the bus company refused to consider it. In addition, city officials struck a blow to the boycott when they announced that any cab driver charging less than the 45 cent minimum fare would be prosecuted. Since the boycott began, the black cab services had been charging blacks only 10 cents to ride, the same as the bus fare, but this service would be no more. Suddenly the MIA was faced with the prospect of having thousands of blacks with no way to get to work, and with no end to the boycott insight.
Whites tried to end the boycott in every way possible. One often-used method was to try to divide the black community. On January 21, 1956, the City Commission met with three non- MIA black ministers and proposed a “compromise,” which was basically the system already in effect. The ministers accepted, and the commission leaked (false) reports to a newspaper that the boycott was over.
Despite all the pressures to end the boycott, blacks continued to stay off the buses. One white bus driver stopped to let off a lone black man in a black neighborhood. Looking in his rearview mirror, he saw an old black woman with a cane rushing towards the bus. He opened the door and said, “You don’t have to rush auntie. I’ll wait for you.” The woman replied, “In the first place, I ain’t your auntie. In the second place, I ain’t rushing to get on your bus. I’m jus’ trying to catch up with that nigger who just got off, so I can hit him with this here stick.”
On November 13, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal court’s ruling, declaring segregation on buses unconstitutional. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was officially over. Blacks returned to the buses on December 21, 1956, over a year after the boycott began, but their troubles would continue long after the boycott ended.
It is said that everything that happens, happens for a reason. It was in Rosa Parks’ destiny to ride that particular bus that day and stand up for what she believed in. She did not know what effects it would have on society, she just simply did what she felt was right. Rosa Parks’ simple decision to remain seated on the bus eventually led to the disintegration of institutionalized segregation in the South, ushering in a new era of the civil rights movement.
Born on February 4, 1913, Rosa Parks was and still is a human rights activist icon of all time. Parks’ memories highlight an end to a black chapter in American history, which was littered with bestiality and utter violation of basic human rights.
During Parks’ time, black Americans were only but ‘the other people’; to be seen and not to be heard, a set of people who could not enjoy the rights their white counterparts were enjoying in the United States of America in the twentieth century.
Black Americans faced segregation in hotels, public accommodations, and public transport to name but a few; moreover, abuse, and mistreatment accompanied this denial of human rights. Nevertheless, Parks’ heroic act in the evening of December 1, 1955, in a bus in Montgomery Alabama brought a revolution that led to the famous Montgomery bus boycott and the subsequent birth of numerous human right activists’ movements, which led to a review of laws that hitherto permitted segregation in public transport.
Rosa Parks Story and Its Influences
Park’s story influenced the world greatly. On the evening of December 1, 1955, Parks refused to offer her seat in a bus to a white man, something that led to her arrest. When the bus driver, James F. Blake threatened to call the police, Parks simply said, “You may do that” (Parks, 1992, p. 1). Sure, to his threats, Blake called the police and that is how Parks found herself in police custody for the rest of the evening.
The humiliation of being whisked from a public bus into police custody notwithstanding, this event brought a revolution, which led to numerous human rights movements across America and it became the mother of human rights activists across nations.
As aforementioned, Parks’ act of defiance led to the famous 381-days Montgomery bus boycott spearhead by Martin Luther King. This boycott crippled the public transport system for a long period and it brought attention to the world all over.
Blacks in the United States of America and elsewhere knew that they were entitled to human rights just as their white counterparts for all people, black or white are God’s creation. Through Parks’ action, people like Nelson Mandela of South Africa found grounds to stand against apartheid in his country South Africa. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison in Robben Island but came out to campaign for the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa.
Mandela’s visit to the United States of America in June 1990, “Touched, and energized black Americans as much as anything since the height of the civil rights era…Mandela always wanted to see Rosa Parks” (Brinkley, 200, p. 229). This is an example of how Parks influenced the world in human rights frontier. Parks also influenced future generations greatly both at administration and personal level as exposited next.
The current generation would be different, probably living in self-neglect, conformity, intimidation, and oppression were it not for Parks. Parks’ case found its way to the Supreme Court and on December 20, 1956, segregation in bus was ruled unconstitutional.
In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed outlawing segregation in schools, public areas, and transport systems among others. These tremendous results came from that single act of defiance and boldness demonstrated by Parks on that bus in Montgomery.
Today people are enjoying freedom and equality that resulted from Parks’ actions. Numerous lives have been touched by Parks boldness and self-belief. On top of her daring actions, Parks went ahead to initiate projects as Rosa L. Parks Scholarship foundations and the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-development. Many people in this generation have benefitted from these foundations courtesy of Rosa Parks.
Parks’ influences transcend the current generation; generations to come will be talking and emulating the steps of this iconic figure in human rights activism. Parks believed in herself and this gives people the challenge to stand for what they believe in. This does not call people to riot whenever something goes wrong; no, it calls for a positive action to right the wrongs prevalent in society.
Individuals can stand for what they believe is right no matter the prevailing opposition, oppression, and intimidation because Parks showed that it is possible to bring the desired change and results through boldness and self-belief. Despite her courageous move and rising to iconic figure in society, Parks faced the common problems that everyone else faces in society but she found happiness and inspiration from a popular source, the bible.
Parks lost her job after her arrest and her husband lost his too, after defying orders to talk with Parks whilst in policed custody. In 1957, they left Montgomery for Hampton in Virginia to start life afresh. Unfortunately, in 1970s, she lost her husband, mother, and brother.
One would wonder how Parks managed to pursue liberty and happiness in such trying times and beyond. As aforementioned, Parks was a staunch Christian from a tender age and this gave her the impetus to carry on with her quest for liberty and happiness in twentieth century and beyond.
The only thing that she knew as a fact was, “somehow we had to change the laws” (Parks, 1992, p. 2). This formed the basis of her push for liberty. Parks’ happiness came directly from the bible. She posits that, “God is everything to me” (Brinkley, 2000, p. 13). This gave her reason to face tomorrow for she was deeply convinced in her heart that God was watching upon her. According to Brinkley (2000), Rosa Parks spent her entire life as a staunch devotee of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church (p. 13).
Nothing else could see someone through the trials and tempting times that Parks went through in her life. Revisiting the story of her relatives, her husband, mother, and brother were hospitalized at the same time forcing her to visit three hospitals in a day. This was tempting for Parks given the fact that these were the only living close relatives she had.
Nevertheless, the bible and her strong faith in the Christian faith saw her through. Brinkley (2000), notes that “AME preachers did not just intone passages from the New Testament; they used impassioned oratory to bring the spirit of the Lord right into their congregations” (p. 13).
This ‘spirit’ of the lord formed the basis of how Parks pursued happiness. On the other side, in her bid to pursue liberty, Parks knew there was a need to change the laws and this would come by “getting enough white people on our side to be able to succeed” (Parks, 1992, p. 2). This combination of faith and strategy to change the laws by incorporating white people in the scheme underlines Parks quest to pursue liberty and happiness in the twentieth century and beyond that.