20 Facts About Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks has been called "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement," thanks to her courageous refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery bus in Alabama on December 1, 1955.
Her act of defiance, and the bus boycott that followed, became a key symbol of the American Civil Rights Movement. She worked with Edgar Nixon, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, and Martin Luther King Jr., the new minister in town.
20 Facts About Rosa Parks
- Rosa Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, on February 4, 1913.
- When her parents split, Parks went to live in Pine Level.
- Rosa married Raymond Parks, a barber from Montgomery, In. in 1932.
- In 1943 Rosa Parks joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and became active in the Civil Rights Movement.
- Buses in Montgomery had been segregated according to race, ever since a law was passed in 1900.
- Rosa Parks had gotten into an argument with bus driver James F. Blake before, back in 1943.
- Parks was arrested and charged with a violation of Chapter 6, Section 11 segregation law of the Montgomery City code.
- She was bailed from jail and plans were put together by Edgar Nixon and Jo Ann Robinson of the Women's Political Council (WPC) for a bus boycott of Montgomery buses in a protest against discrimination.
- Parks was found guilty the next day of disorderly conduct and violating a local ordinance.
- It rained on the Monday of the bus boycott, but the protest was still an overwhelming success.
- The "Montgomery Improvement Association" (MIA) was formed to co-ordinate further boycotts.
- Rosa Park's arrest was seen as an ideal test case for challenging the laws on segregation.
- The Montgomery Bus Boycott continued for 381 days and didn't end until the city repealed its segregation law.
- Martin Luther King Jr. later wrote about the importance of Rosa Parks in providing a catalyst for the protests, as well as a rallying point for those who were tired of the social injustices of segregation.
- Parks became an icon of the civil rights struggle in the years after the Montgomery boycott.
- The couple moved to Virginia, before settling in Detroit.
- Parks had a tough time in the 1970s. Many of her family were plagued with illness.
- Rosa Parks died at the age of 92 on October 24, 2005.
- President George W. Bush issued a proclamation ordering that all flags on U.S. public areas should be flown at half-staff on the day of Parks' funeral.
- In 2013, Rosa Parks became the first African American woman to have her likeness depicted in National Statuary Hall.
1. Rosa Parks Was Born in Tuskegee, Alabama.
Rosa Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, on February 4, 1913. Her mother was a teacher and her father was a carpenter.
2. When Her Parents Split, Parks Went to Live in Pine Level.
When her parents split, Parks went to live in Pine Level, just outside the state capital, Montgomery, with her mother. There were buses to take white children to school, but black students were expected to walk. Parks later recalled, "I'd see the bus pass every day. But, to me, that was a way of life; we had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world."
3. Rosa Married Raymond Parks in 1932.
Rosa married Raymond Parks, a barber from Montgomery, In. in 1932. He was a member of the NAACP and encouraged her to complete her high school education, which she'd dropped out of to care for her sick grandmother and mother.
4. In 1943, Rosa Parks Joined the Montgomery Chapter of the NAACP.
In 1943, Rosa Parks joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and became active in the Civil Rights Movement. She worked there as a secretary for the local NAACP leader, E.D. Nixon.
5. Buses in Montgomery Had Been Segregated According to Race.
Buses in Montgomery had been segregated according to race, ever since a law was passed in 1900. Over time, it became customary for drivers to ask black people to give up their seats when there were no seats left for whites and there were whites standing. Parks and other black people had complained for years that the situation was unfair.
6. Rosa Parks Had Argued With the Bus Driver Before.
Rosa Parks had gotten into an argument with bus driver James F. Blake before, back in 1943, she had left his bus and waited for another on that occasion, but on Thursday, December 1, 1955, she got into a dispute with Blake and refused to back down. The dispute was over Blake wanting to move the "colored section" back a row to accommodate more white riders, a common practice at that time. Parks declined to give up her seat, despite being threatened with arrest.
7. Parks Was Arrested.
Parks was arrested and charged with a violation of Chapter 6, Section 11 segregation law of the Montgomery City code. She later commented, "I only knew that, as I was being arrested, that it was the very last time that I would ever ride in humiliation of this kind..."
8. Plans Were Put Together for a Bus Boycott.
She was bailed from jail and plans were put together by Edgar Nixon and Jo Ann Robinson of the Women's Political Council (WPC) for a bus boycott of Montgomery buses in a protest against discrimination.
9. Parks Was Found Guilty of Disorderly Conduct.
Parks was found guilty the next day of disorderly conduct and for violating a local ordinance. She was fined $10, plus $4 in court costs. She immediately challenged her conviction and the legality of segregation, launching an appeal.
10. It Rained on the Monday of the Bus Boycott.
It rained on the Monday of the bus boycott, but the protest was still an overwhelming success. Some of the black community shared cars, others rode black-operated taxis which only charged 10 cents, the standard price of a bus journey. Others walked to work, some traveling 20 miles or more.
11. The "Montgomery Improvement Association" (MIA) Was Formed.
After the success of the one day boycott, an organization called the "Montgomery Improvement Association" (MIA) was formed to co-ordinate further boycotts. The Reverent Martin Luther King Jr. was elected president of the new organization. He had only recently moved to Montgomery. Rosa Parks received a standing ovation when introduced at the first meeting.
12. Rosa Park's Arrest Was Seen as an Ideal Test Case.
Rosa Park's arrest was seen as an ideal test case for challenging the laws on segregation, as she was an upstanding citizen, happily married and gainfully employed, her personality was quiet and dignified.
13. The Montgomery Bus Boycott Continued for 381 Days.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott continued for 381 days and didn't end until the city repealed its segregation law. In the end, the change happened, not because of the Parks case, which was stalled by appeals, or the damage to the finances of the bus company, but by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Browder v. Gayle that the segregation law was found unconstitutional.
14. Martin Luther King Jr. Wrote About Her.
Martin Luther King Jr. later wrote about the importance of Rosa Parks in providing a catalyst for the protests, as well as a rallying point for those who were tired of the social injustices of segregation. He wrote, "Actually, no one can understand the action of Mrs. Parks unless he realizes that eventually the cup of endurance runs over, and the human personality cries out, 'I can take it no longer.'"
15. Parks Became an Icon of the Civil Rights Struggle.
Parks became an icon of the civil rights struggle in the years after the Montgomery boycott, a symbol of resistance against injustice, but she also suffered associated hardships. She lost her job and so did her husband, because of their political activities. She also received many death threats.
16. The Couple Moved to Virginia, Before Settling in Detroit.
The couple moved to Virginia, before settling in Detroit. Although the city had a reputation for being progressive, Parks was critical of the effective segregation of housing and education, and the often poor local services in black neighborhoods.
17. Parks Had a Tough Time in the 1970s.
Parks had a tough time in the 1970s. Many of her family members were plagued with illness and she experienced multiple bereavements, including her husband and brother. She also experienced financial strain for the rest of her life, partly due to her giving away most of her money made from speaking to civil rights causes.
18. Rosa Parks Died at the Age of 92 on October 24, 2005.
Rosa Parks died at the age of 92 on October 24, 2005. Her coffin was flown to Montgomery and taken in a horse-drawn hearse to the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, where a memorial service was held. The casket was then taken to Washington, D.C. and carried by a bus similar to the one in which she had refused to give up her seat. Her body then laid in honor in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. Her body then went back to Detroit, where it was eventually laid to rest in Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery.
19. President George W. Bush Issued a Proclamation.
President George W. Bush issued a proclamation ordering that all flags on U.S. public areas should be flown at half-staff on the day of Parks' funeral.
20. She Was the First African American Woman Depicted in National Statuary Hall.
In 2013, Rosa Parks became the first African American woman to have her likeness depicted in National Statuary Hall, United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.
Common Questions About Rosa Parks and The Civil Rights Movement
Most people know that Rosa Parks is important because she helped Martin Luther King, Jr. take on the Jim Crow laws of segregation, however, few people know much more about her life. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement.
What Organization Did Rosa Parks Work for?
Rosa was elected secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). By the time Parks boarded the bus on that famous day, she was an established organizer and leader in the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama.
Other Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement
What They Did
Ralph Abernathy (1926–1990) was a leader of the Civil Rights Movement and a close friend to Martin Luther King, Jr. After King's death, Abernathy assumed leadership of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and remained committed to carrying through King's plans to fight poverty.
March 11, 1926, Linden, AL
Elaine Brown (1943–) is a writer, singer, and political activist who served as Chairperson of the Black Panther Party from 1974 to 1977.
March 2, 1943 (age 75 years), Philadelphia, PA
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968) was the young pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama who rose to prominence in the movement for civil rights. He remains to this day a symbol of the nonviolent struggle against segregation.
January 15, 1929, Atlanta, GA
Malcolm X (1925–1965) was a Black leader who, as a key spokesman for the Nation of Islam, epitomized the "Black Power" philosophy.
May 19, 1925, Omaha, NE
Thurgood Marshall (1908–1993) was a student of Charles Houston, special counsel to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
July 2, 1908, Baltimore, MD
Huey P. Newton
Huey P. Newton (1942–1989) was one of the founders of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.
February 17, 1942, Monroe, LA
Stokely Carmichael (1941–1998) was a civil rights activist and national chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1966 and 1967. He is credited with popularizing the term "Black Power."
June 29, 1941, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Why Did Rosa Parks Not Give Up Her Seat?
Over 60 years ago, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her arrest on December 1, 1955 sparked the 381-day Montgomery bus boycott. Her refusal was a strategic form of non-violent protest that would hopefully draw attention to the civil rights movement and help to demonstrate to the world how vicious an inhuman the laws of segregation truly were.
What Was Rosa Parks Childhood Like?
Rosa Parks' Early Life. Rosa Louise McCauley was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, on February 4th, 1913. She moved with her parents, James and Leona McCauley, to Pine Level, Alabama, at age two to reside with Leona's parents. Her brother, Sylvester, was born in 1915, and shortly after that her parents separated. Park's lived under repressive laws that openly discriminated against her as a black women. Rosa's struggles led her to be passionate about making sure that future generations of African American students would not have to face the same repression.
What Was Rosa's Family Like?
Rosa’s mother was a teacher. The family valued education highly. When Rosa moved to Montgomery, Alabama, at age 11, she attended a laboratory high school at the Alabama State Teachers’ College for Negroes. She left at 16, early in 11th grade, because she needed to care for her dying grandmother and, shortly thereafter, her chronically ill mother.
At 19, she married Raymond Parks, a self-educated man (10 years her senior) who worked as a barber. He was a long-time member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Raymond supported Rosa in her efforts to earn her high-school diploma, and she earned it the following year.
What Is the NAACP and Why Is It Important?
The NAACP have played a very important role in the civil rights movement. The initials stand for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The NAACP was founded in 1909 by a group of multi-racial activists. It was originally called the National Negro Committee.
What Has the NAACP Accomplished?
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) used a combination of tactics including legal challenges, demonstrations, and economic boycotts to create change and gain exposure. The NAACP played an important role in helping end segregation in the United States.
What Is the Mission of the NAACP?
The mission of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination across all sectors of American life.
How Did the NAACP Help the Civil Rights Movement?
The NAACP played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In fact, one of the organization's key victories was in the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education. This outlawed segregation in public schools.
What Did NAACP Fight Against?
In 1909, the NAACP commenced what became its legacy. They are mostly known for fighting legal battles to win social justice for African Americans and for all other groups of Americans who have been discriminated against. The NAACP have fought against segregation on all accounts and have fought for the protection of minority rights in the workplace.
What Did the Congress of Racial Equality Do?
Founded in 1942, the Congress of Racial Equality's stated mission is "to bring about equality for all people regardless of race, creed, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or ethnic background."
What Was the Purpose of the Civil Rights Movement?
The Civil Rights Movement was an era dedicated to activism for equal rights and the equal treatment of African Americans in the United States under the law. During this period, people rallied for social, legal, political, and cultural changes to prohibit discrimination and to finally put an end to segregation.
How the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Changed America
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination and segregation on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and gender in the workplace, schools, public accommodations, and in federally assisted programs.
The Civil Rights Act had a profound effect on schools. Even though the Supreme Court had ruled in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case that segregation in schools was inherently unequal, there had only been incremental efforts to desegregate public schools in the following decades. The Civil Rights Act required schools to take actual steps to end segregation. The civil rights movement looked to end school related discrimination, including racist busing practices and districting practices.
How Long Did the Civil Rights Movement Last?
Through nonviolent protest, the civil rights movement of the '50s and '60s broke the pattern of public facilities' being segregated by “race” in the South. It also achieved the most important breakthrough in equal-rights legislation for African Americans.
- Freedom's Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970
- The Montgomery Bus Boycot
- The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks
- Landlord won't ask Rosa Parks to pay rent | MSNBC
- How History Got Rosa Parks Wrong | Washington Post.
- Rosa Parks
- From Alabama to Detroit: Rosa Parks' Rebellious Life
- Rosa Parks, 92, Founding Symbol of Civil Rights Movement, Dies | The New York Times
Questions & Answers
- Helpful 66
What does the "L" stand for in Rosa Parks' name?
It stands for "Louise." Her full name was Rosa Louise McCauley Parks.Helpful 1
Was Rosa Parks a slave when she was younger?
No, Rosa Parks was not a slave, although she did grow up living under the white-established Jim Crow laws in Alabama, which imposed racial segregation in public facilities, including public transportation.Helpful 3
Why did Rosa Parks refuse to give up her seat to a white person?
Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist, who opposed racial segregation and the unequal treatment of African American users of buses in Montgomery, Alabama. Her act of defiance was not spontaneous but planned. Parks refused to surrender her seat in the "colored section" to a white passenger after the whites-only section was filled when ordered to vacate it by the driver.Helpful 19
How old would Rosa Parks be today?
To know how old Parks would be now, all you need to be aware of is that she was born on February 4, 1913, and then you should be able to work it out.Helpful 18
© 2015 Paul Goodman