February 4, 2014

OURstory: Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

Rosa Parks was born February 4, 1913. She didn't seek notoriety. She was simply a quiet and resolute woman who stood up by sitting down. She became an American civil rights activist.

Rosa McCauley grew up in Montgomery, Alabama and attended the all-Black Alabama State College. Rosa and her husband Raymond Parks were active in Montgomery's chapter of the NAACP. She worked as the chapter's youth adviser; on voter registration drives and was secretary of the NAACP’s Montgomery branch in 1943. As the 1950’s began, the segregated seating policies on public buses were growing as a source of resentment and bitterness within the Black community in Montgomery.

Blacks were required to pay their fares at the front of the bus, and then board again through the back door. The white bus drivers would harass Blacks, sometimes driving away before they were able to get back on the bus. On December 1, 1955, Parks took her seat in the front of the "colored section". When the driver asked Parks and three other Black riders to give up their seats to whites, Parks refused and was arrested; she soon agreed to let the NAACP provide legal council. Rosa Parks' case was filed in United States District Court, which ruled in her favor, declaring segregated seating on buses unconstitutional, a decision later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was more than an inadvertent symbol; she was an experienced activist with strong beliefs. whose arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a bus set in motion the turning point in the African American battle for civil rights. Parks and her husband relocated to Detroit in 1957, where in time, Congressman John Conyers hired her as an administrative assistant, a position she held until 1987.

Rosa Parks, a committed activist died on October 24, 2005. On October 30th, and 31st of that year, she became the first woman to lie in honor in the vast circular room under the Capitol dome. By voice vote the House agreed to the action "so that the citizens of the United States may pay their last respects to this great American."
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2 comments:

Black on Campus said...

Sometimes I think about how different my life would be from what it is today if Rosa Parks and other freedom fighters hadn't put their lives and their safety on the line for all of us.

Villager said...

Ajuan - Rosa Parks came at a critical crossroads of the civil rights movement. She was important for all Americans...

peace, Villager