20 Facts About Rosa Parks

Updated on April 26, 2018
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Since graduating university, Paul has worked as a librarian and bookseller. Born in the UK, he now works as a freelance writer in Florida.

Rosa Parks, with Martin Luther King Jr. in the background.  When the bus driver asked her to give up her seat so that white people could sit down, she responded: "I don't think I should have to stand up."
Rosa Parks, with Martin Luther King Jr. in the background. When the bus driver asked her to give up her seat so that white people could sit down, she responded: "I don't think I should have to stand up." | Source

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.

Below are my 20 facts about Rosa Parks.

1. 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, 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, a barber from MontgomeryIn 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 and became active in the Civil Rights Movement. She worked there as a secretary for the local NAACP leader, E.D. Nixon.

Photo of American civil rights leader and union organizer, Edgar Daniel Nixon, after he was arrested during the Montgomery bus boycott.  Parks worked as his secretary through most of the 1940s and 50s.
Photo of American civil rights leader and union organizer, Edgar Daniel Nixon, after he was arrested during the Montgomery bus boycott. Parks worked as his secretary through most of the 1940s and 50s. | Source

5. 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 got 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.

A plaque not commemorates the place where Rosa Parks boarded the bus on Thursday, December 1, 1955, in downtown Montgomery, which later led to the Montgomery bus boycott.  The stop is at Dexter Ave. and Montgomery St.
A plaque not commemorates the place where Rosa Parks boarded the bus on Thursday, December 1, 1955, in downtown Montgomery, which later led to the Montgomery bus boycott. The stop is at Dexter Ave. and Montgomery St. | Source

7. Parks was arrested and charged with a violation of Chapter 6, Section 11 segregation law of the Montgomery City code. She later commented that: "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. 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.

The bus that Rosa Parks rode on before she was arrested.  Whites were expected to sit at the front of the bus and blacks at the rear, although the white area could be expanded at any time.  The No. 2857 bus is now exhibited in the Henry Ford Museum.
The bus that Rosa Parks rode on before she was arrested. Whites were expected to sit at the front of the bus and blacks at the rear, although the white area could be expanded at any time. The No. 2857 bus is now exhibited in the Henry Ford Museum. | Source

9. Parks was found guilty the next day of disorderly conduct and violating a local ordinance and 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, 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.

Martin Luther King Jr., a local minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, was elected as Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization set up to lead and organize an expanded boycott effort.
Martin Luther King Jr., a local minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, was elected as Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization set up to lead and organize an expanded boycott effort. | Source

11. 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 Parks 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 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 US Supreme Court ruling in the case of Browder v. Gayle that the segregation law was unconstitutional.

14. 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.'"

Rosa Parks booking photo following her February 1956 arrest during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  The boycott lasted for 381 days and was only discontinued when the city repealed its segregation law.
Rosa Parks booking photo following her February 1956 arrest during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott lasted for 381 days and was only discontinued when the city repealed its segregation law. | Source

15. 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. 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.

Rosa Parks traveling on a Montgomery bus on the day that the transport system was officially integrated.  Parks became an icon of the civil rights movement but also suffered hardships.  She lost her job in Montgomery and received many death threats.
Rosa Parks traveling on a Montgomery bus on the day that the transport system was officially integrated. Parks became an icon of the civil rights movement but also suffered hardships. She lost her job in Montgomery and received many death threats. | Source

17. Parks had a tough time in the 1970s. Many of her family 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. 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 is was eventually laid to rest in Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery.

19. 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. 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.

Questions & Answers

  • How did Rosa Parks die?

    Parks died of natural causes on October 24, 2005 in Detroit, Michigan. She was 92 years old.

  • Why is Rosa Parks famous?

    Rosa Parks is most famous for refusing to obey orders from a bus driver when he told her to surrender her seat in the "colored section" to a white passenger after the whites-only section had filled up. Her act of defiance is one of the key events in the history of the US civil rights movement.

  • 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.

  • 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.

© 2015 Paul Goodman

Comments

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    • profile image

      vanessa 

      8 weeks ago

      thank you becuase i was doing a school progect

    • profile image

      Giselle 

      8 weeks ago

      This is a great website to study on for a test. AWesome!

    • profile image

      hannah 

      2 months ago

      good

    • profile image

      Mya 

      2 months ago

      I like this

    • profile image

      Isabella 

      2 months ago

      This is a good website but can you abb more stuff we don ‘t know

    • profile image

      alexis 

      2 months ago

      thanks! this was really helpful for my report in history class.

    • profile image

      Redwoods301 

      3 months ago

      It would be useful to add mention of Parks' prior activism!

    • profile image

      EEVEE 

      3 months ago

      I'm doing a rebort on her

    • profile image

      Dakota Tice 

      3 months ago

      I am doing an outline.

    • profile image

      Kylee 

      3 months ago

      I’m writing a book report

    • profile image

      kylee 

      3 months ago

      The video did not work for me. But I got a lot of facts about rosa parks.Thanks so much.

    • profile image

      tiger growl 

      3 months ago

      great person and I'm only 12

    • profile image

      victor 

      3 months ago

      I think she should gave her seat to the other man

    • profile image

      Casey 

      3 months ago

      using for history

    • profile image

      Tranae Osborne 

      3 months ago

      I think Rosa Parks did right with not giving up her seat on the bus for a white man.

    • profile image

      WisteriaAnimeLover 

      4 months ago

      That kid, Rosa there, wise words there. Anyone agree with me?

    • profile image

      #1 kpop fan 

      4 months ago

      im glad that this exists. it's proven to be very helpful when it comes to history projects.

    • profile image

      dank memes r good 4 da soul 

      4 months ago

      very helpful. 10/10

    • profile image

      memeboi 

      4 months ago

      kinda wish some of these were in order, but otherwise thanks for this bc it's going to help me for my project!

    • profile image

      person of the people 

      4 months ago

      ................i don't know how to feel...............

    • profile image

      Bob The Anonymous 

      4 months ago

      I really wished the events were in order though :(

    • profile image

      liley4523 

      4 months ago

      I am using this for a biography project

    • profile image

      a student 

      4 months ago

      its a great web page

    • profile image

      niang 

      4 months ago

      true

    • profile image

      maya .c 

      4 months ago

      more facts that we do not know

    • profile image

      corathecoco 

      4 months ago

      i thought it was good and full of facts

    • profile image

      Hope 

      4 months ago

      I can’t believe what Rosa Parks went through!! I would probably kill my self if I was her!!

    • profile image

      samaya 

      4 months ago

      im using some facts for my project :0 :)

    • profile image

      queentla 

      4 months ago

      she was very cool

    • profile image

      ellabrown 

      4 months ago

      amazing facts it has helped me with my project so much

    • profile image

      jazmine 

      4 months ago

      rosa parks as so brave

    • profile image

      Noelle_kitty 

      4 months ago

      I am using this for my homework! Very useful!!!

    • profile image

      TheGiddy 

      4 months ago

      I think i will use rosa parks for my project too

    • profile image

      Josh Miller 

      4 months ago

      YES GIRL U DID IT! STANDING UP BEFORE THAT MANNNN YESSSSS GO GIRLLLLL

    • profile image

      haley 

      4 months ago

      and guess what this all started over a seat

    • profile image

      bob 

      4 months ago

      i think that this was a very very very very very very very very very USEFUL SITE :):):):):):):) and these are smile faces

    • profile image

      gloria.townsend 

      4 months ago

      i am using her on my project now

    • profile image

      LLRP 

      4 months ago

      I LOVE THIS AND YES MY NAME MEANS LONG LIVE ROSA PARKS:)

    • profile image

      mariihascl0ut 

      4 months ago

      i used some of this for a project on her c;

    • profile image

      me myself 

      4 months ago

      it was great reading about this

    • profile image

      Me 

      4 months ago

      Used this on a project

    • profile image

      coolman08 

      4 months ago

      good job rosa

    • profile image

      Claire 

      4 months ago

      I think that Rosa Parks did the right thing. And good thing she got out of jail. Plus, she lived a long life.

    • profile image

      annabelle 

      4 months ago

      good facts but long

    • profile image

      Miakoda 

      4 months ago

      These facts are super helpful. Its Black History month and I have to write a report on three alive people and 3 dead ones.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 months ago

      I'm doing a report, too, but these facts are too long! Maybe if you can shorten them up....

    • profile image

      mary 

      5 months ago

      i am doing a report

    • profile image

      summer 

      5 months ago

      i am doing a report on her right now

    • profile image

      kathy 

      5 months ago

      Rosa Parks was a strong black women and she said : sitting down to stand up. this for my school and i am doing living museum.

    • profile image

      kira 

      5 months ago

      a-men to that!

    • profile image

      julie 

      5 months ago

      i am doing a report right now Im in 5th grade o and her birthday is on the 4th of February

    • profile image

      trinity 

      5 months ago

      i am doing a report i am in forth grade

    • profile image

      jordan 

      5 months ago

      rosa parks is cool

    • profile image

      Trinity 

      5 months ago

      We are doing a station with computers

    • profile image

      davon 

      5 months ago

      that is so not far every body is equal.

    • profile image

      jaiden 

      5 months ago

      i have to write a paper for school and this is really good information

    • profile image

      Arianna804 

      5 months ago

      I am doing Rosa Parks for my fifth grade homework

    • profile image

      Olivia 

      5 months ago

      I love Rosa. She's so brave

    • profile image

      Chance 

      5 months ago

      I think that Rosa parks is a good project

    • profile image

      Annie LeBlanc\ Bratayley 

      5 months ago

      I have to do a Rosa Parks project for homeschool!

    • profile image

      hannah 

      5 months ago

      I am doing a Rosa Parks Bio for colloge

    • profile image

      kayla 

      5 months ago

      I love rose parks she is brave

    • profile image

      slayer 

      5 months ago

      long live rosa

    • profile image

      angie 

      5 months ago

      so sad but it helped me on my essay

    • profile image

      silvereye0 

      5 months ago

      i have to do a project about her

    • profile image

      emma 

      5 months ago

      what a hero

    • profile image

      Sammma 

      5 months ago

      OH MY GOSH, MY DAUGHTER IS GUNNA LOVE THIS

    • profile image

      Lola 

      5 months ago

      Rosa deserved a noble peice award

    • profile image

      kimora 

      5 months ago

      i am 10 years old and do a young authors pproject on her to

    • profile image

      was a good girl 

      5 months ago

      i love this

    • profile image

      NYLA 

      5 months ago

      cool @vgvdbcusdh I gotta do a project too!

    • profile image

      hiii 

      5 months ago

      sad

      so sad :(

    • profile image

      tyyhjfg 

      5 months ago

      i respect

    • profile image

      vgvdbcusdh 

      6 months ago

      Im doing a project on Rosa Parks to, although it is very boring

    • profile image

      YTYTYTYT 

      6 months ago

      Hello, My name is josh, and I am doing a project for my school about Rosa Parks so thanks. :)

    • profile image

      amazing 

      6 months ago

      so cool

    • profile image

      unicorn person 

      6 months ago

      Rosa Parks changed everything. It's so sad that she died on her birthday. LONG LIVE ROSA PARKS

    • profile image

      vaclav 

      6 months ago

      Rosa parks is magnificent and inspirational, I cant believe that she refused to give her seat to a white man. I hope everybody remembers her as a great civil rights leader. We should always honor Rosa Parks on the day she refused to give the seat to that white man. Rosa Parks rocks!

    • profile image

      diyanna 

      6 months ago

      she is a hero

    • profile image

      person 

      6 months ago

      she is awsome

    • profile image

      free rosa parks 

      6 months ago

      she wa a awsome person rip rosa parks we still love her

    • profile image

      Panda Lover 

      6 months ago

      SHES AMAZING!

    • profile image

      AMAAN QURESHI 

      7 months ago

      I THINK ROSA PARKS WAS AN AMAZING PERSON

    • profile image

      Pikachu101 

      7 months ago

      Rosa parks was and Still is Amazing she did what she thought was right because she was not just tired of getting told what to do she was tired of getting pushed around. I know that if I was in her shoes I would have done the same thing because it is the right thing to do. Now Dont be afraid to stand up for what is right even if you have people laughing or talking behind you back stand up for your self.

    • profile image

      samayah 

      7 months ago

      I feel bad for Rosa parks now especially the photo of her in jail its so sad

    • profile image

      Giselle 

      7 months ago

      Rosa Parks is really brave

    • profile image

      Lisa Marie 

      9 months ago

      That was so sad whin she died on her barthday.

    • profile image

      kitty meow 

      9 months ago

      what an amazing woman to do this brave stuff

    • profile image

      my names billy 

      14 months ago

      rosa parks is amazing

    • profile image

      Alexis Duck 

      14 months ago

      Rosa parks was a very strong women she was also very brave but why would everyone suddenly do all these things because she died they should have done it when she was a live.... she stuck up for herself when nobody else would.... and that's like standing up to a bully no matter how many times she got knocked down she stood back up and tried again.

    • profile image

      kitty kat 

      15 months ago

      Some pepole say she is ugly but... she is not. evry one is equal!!!!! :)

    • profile image

      aubry 

      16 months ago

      i think that rosa is really brave

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