Home > Uncategorized > February 4 – Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

February 4 – Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

On this day, February 4, 1913, a famous African American civil rights activist was born in Tuskegee, Alabama. She would later be known as the “Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement.” Who was this woman, and what is she famous for?…

Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama to a carpenter named James McCauley and a teacher named Leona Edwards. Interestingly, she was of African-American, Cherokee-Creek and Scots-Irish ancestry. When she was still young, Rosa’s parents separated, and Rosa followed her mother to live with her grandparents and younger brother on a farm just outside of Montgomery, Alabama.

Growing up in the South during these times, Rosa, like all other blacks, was forced to live under Jim Crow Laws which kept blacks and whites segregated, and which deprived blacks of many of the rights and resources afforded to the whites. From an early age, Rosa remembered having to walk to the black school while school buses drove past carrying the white students to their schools: “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.”

As Rosa grew up, her education, experiences, and employment at a non-segregated federal base opened her eyes to the injustices around her. These realizations and frustrations drove her to take a stand against those who would deprive her of her rights as a citizen and as a human being. On December 1, 1955, while riding home from work on a Montgomery public bus, Rosa Parks disobeyed the driver’s order to give over her seat to a white passenger. When the driver threatened to call the police and have her arrested, she responded, “You may do that.”

Her act of “civil disobedience” led to her arrest. It also sparked a passionate response from local civil rights groups and the black community at large, who quickly rallied behind her. On December 5, the day of her trial, the Women’s Political Council (WPC) distributed 35,000 leaflets throughout the city requesting all blacks take part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The boycott lasted 381 days. Dozens of public buses stood idle while 40,000 black commuters walked, carpooled, or rode in the black-operated cabs which only charged bus fare – 10 cents. So successful was the boycott, and so severe its impact on the bus transit company’s finances that the law requiring segregation of public buses was finally lifted.

Rosa Parks died on October 24, 2005, but her life has had a lasting impact on civil rights in America. She was not the first to stand up for her civil rights, nor was she even the first to refuse to switch seats on a bus. But her actions, her grace, and her dignity made her an ideal spokeswoman for the cause. For her role in raising the fight against segregation into the national and international consciousness, she would later be known as the “Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement,” and she received numerous honors both in life and posthumously, including the Congressional Gold Medal and the honor of lying in state at the Capitol Rotunda.

thanks for reading,

francis

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” ~ Rosa Parks

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 4, 2010 at 7:12 pm

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