Rosa Parks was an American activist in the civil rights movement known for her role in the Montgomery Bus boycott. On what would have been her 107th Birthday, we are celebrating the courage and determination of an incredible woman.
Who was Rosa Parks?
Rosa Parks was born in Alabama, US in 1913. She was a civil rights activist who refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her defiance initiated the Montgomery bus boycott, which led a ripple effect to end racial segregation of public facilities across the United States.
On December 1, 1995 Parks was arrested for refusing a bus drivers’ instruction to give up her seat to a white passenger.
“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true,” Parks said in her book, ‘Rosa Parks: My Story’. “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 42. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
On the first day of her trial, on December 5, 1995 members of the African American community came together and decided to stop using city buses. They refused to use the city buses for 381 days, choosing to walk or carpool. The efforts of 40,000 African American’s in the City of Montgomery ended with a Supreme Court ruling declaring segregation on public transit systems to be unconstitutional in November 1956.
The determination of the African American community and the quiet courage of Rosa Parks made the Montgomery Bus Boycott one of the most successful movements against racial segregation in history.
Rosa was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999. On the 1st December 2019, at least 400 people showed up for the unveiling of the Rosa Parks statue at the downtown site where Parks got on the bus the day she was arrested.
Today we remember Rosa Parks, a courageous woman who made the future better for many generations. “To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try.”