Rosa Parks Challenged Segregation
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a 42-year- old African-American woman in Montgomery City, Alabama, quietly refused to move from her seat on the basis of her race, setting in motion the Montgomery bus boycott and the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. Although she was in the first row of seats available to black passengers, when the white section became full, the driver insisted that she along with three others move to give their seats to white passengers who had entered the bus. In previous incidents others had taken similar actions to hers and at the time, she was actively fighting for civil rights and secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. However, her refusal to move was not pre-meditated.
“I did not get on the bus to get arrested; I got on the bus to go home. Getting arrested was one of the worst days in my life,” Ms. Parks later wrote. “I was just tired of giving in…. When I made that decision, I knew that I had the strength of my ancestors with me.”
Above: Bus no. 2857, believed to be the Rosa Parks bus, has been restored and is on view at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI.
Left: Rosa Parks being fingerprinted by Police Lt. D.H. Lackey in Montgomery, AL.