Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

Rosa Louise (McCauley) Parks, the “mother of the modern-day civil rights movement,” worked as a seamstress and became an active organizer and leader in the civil rights movement. Rosa had spent her life growing up in the segregated south. Because of the Jim Crow laws, Rosa and other Blacks in Montgomery were not given equal treatment. Rosa had to deal with daily discrimination. By law, Blacks were required to sit in the back of the Montgomery buses–behind white riders. In practice, bus drivers could ask that a Black passenger give up their seat so that a white passenger could sit down.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa took the bus home from work at the Montgomery Fair department store. She sat in the first row of the “colored” section. As they continued driving along, a white man was left without a seat because the “white” section was full.

Rosa and three other passengers in the front row of the “colored” section were told by the bus driver to get up so that the white man could sit down. While the other three passengers got up, Rosa refused.

Key Point

For peacefully demonstrating opposition to segregation, Rosa was arrested and on December 5, was found guilty of violating segregation laws. However, it was because of Rosa’s brave refusal to give up her seat on the Montgomery bus that another central transformational civil rights leader, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, was launched to the front of the movement.