Rosa Parks was a seamstress and an activist in the civil rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Montgomery, Alabama. On December 1st, 1955, then 42 years old Parks was on her way home. She was sitting on the front row of the ‘colored’ section of the city bus when she, among other black passengers, was required to stand up so white passengers could sit. At the time, public transportation in Montgomery was segregated, and bus drivers had the authority to assign seats. Parks, who had experienced this kind of behavior before, refused to give up her seat. She was arrested for not obeying the driver’s seat assignments, and within four days, she was found guilty of violating the city ordinance and was fined $10 plus a $4 court fee.
Parks’ action and her conviction have sparked the Montgomery bus boycott –an active protest of the civil rights movement, led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., against the racial segregation of Montgomery’s public transit system. The boycott that lasted 381 days and almost bankrupted the bus company ended on December 20th, 1956, when the United States Supreme Court declared that segregation in buses is unconstitutional.
After those events, Parks became a symbol of the civil rights movement, recognized for her strength and dignity while facing racism and discrimination.
Rosa Parks Day is a holiday commemorating the civil rights leader, honoring her acts and courage. The day promotes fairness and freedom and serves as a reminder that there is still a long way to achieve equal opportunities for all. The day is celebrated in Missouri and California on February 4th – Parks’ birthday, and in Oregon and Ohio on December 1st – the day she got arrested. On either day, various events and activities focus on Parks’ actions and the continuing struggle against discrimination. It is an opportunity to learn about Parks, her influence on the civil rights movement, and how life was under the “Jim Crow” laws. You can also visit one of her statues, museums or see online exhibits about her. Share your experiences and findings on social media using #RosaParksDay.
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