Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, known as the mother of the Civil Rights Movement, was born on February 4, 1913, to Rose and Silvester Edwards. She was among the seven percent of African Americans who attended and graduated from school. In 1932, Rosa married Raymond Parks, who was a member of the Montgomery NAACP chapter. Later, she became the chapter secretary. Along with her work as a seamstress and administrative aide, Rosa Parks actively participated in the Civil Rights movement in 1943. She inherited the cause of racial equality from her grandparents, who were former slaves and advocates of social activism.
Rosa Parks is most famously known for her brave act of refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. Her act of defiance against the Jim Crow Laws led to her arrest and subsequently, the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott was a large-scale movement against the policy of racial segregation on public transportation in Montgomery. It lasted from December 1955 to December 1956, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision from June of the same year to integrate the Montgomery Bus System. The court's decision stated that segregation of the bus system violated the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Rosa Parks became the face of the NAACP's national resistance to racial segregation and is regarded as the mother of the Civil Rights Movement. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a significant event that led to the emergence of other civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., who later became a key leader of the Civil Rights Movement.
Mrs. Parks dedicated her life to civil activism and remained committed to the cause throughout her life. In 1965, she began working as the administrative aid to U.S. Congressman John Conyers. The 1970s were a difficult period for Mrs. Parks as she had to endure the loss of her husband to throat cancer, as well as the passing of her dear friend Fannie Lou Hamer and her mother to cancer and geriatric dementia. In 1987, Mrs. Parks founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute of Self-Development to serve the youth of Detroit. In 1999, President Clinton awarded her with the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, which is the highest award given by the U.S. government. The honorable Senator Spencer Abraham (R-Michigan), one of the sponsors of the bill to honor her, deemed Rosa Parks as the spark that “ignited a determined and righteous crusade” after having successfully dismantled the “harsh rule of Jim Crow.” Five years later, Rosa Parks succumbed to a long fight with a serious illness at 92 years of age.
The evidence is undeniable. Rosa Parks represented bravery, composure, and strength of character in the face of injustice. Throughout her life, she passionately fought against racial inequality and her advocacy sparked a movement that might not have progressed to dismantle Jim Crow laws and segregation if she had chosen to relinquish her seat and move to the back of the bus.
Wow, isn't it amazing how Rosa Parks stood up for racial justice by simply staying in her seat? As an African American, I'm thrilled to know that her small, yet powerful act of resistance played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement!