Monday, December 15, 2008
L3 Reading: Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks, Mother of the US Civil Rights Movement
In 1955, Rosa Parks was a 43-year-old seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, an African-American living in a city with laws that strictly segregated blacks and whites. When Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man, she was arrested and fined.
The arrest of Parks sparked the bus boycott in Montgomery and changed America forever. After Parks arrest, community leaders spread the word that a one-day bus boycott was scheduled for December 5. On that cold and cloudy morning, onlookers watched as the buses drove by with few black passengers on board. The boycott, which lasted for 381 days, had been a success. On December 20, 1956, buses were desegregated. The bus boycott by African-Americans, led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., caused a national sensation that eventually led to widespread desegregation in the United States and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
In 1943, Rosa Parks became a member of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and she served as its secretary until 1956. After the Bus Boycott, Mrs. Parks lost her job and, with her husband and mother, moved to Detroit in 1957. In 1965 she joined the staff of U.S. Representative John Conyers of Michigan and worked until her retirement in 1988. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 and the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor in1999, the highest honour a civilian can receive in the United States.
Mrs. Parks passed away on October 24, 2005, at the age of 92.