[December 1, 2020] Sixty-five years ago, the moral courage of Rosa Parks, a visionary for Civil Rights, helped write racial equality into the mind of all Americans. On this date in 1955, coming home from work, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person. For that reason, she was arrested for Civil Disobedience.
Parks’ act of defiance became the most well-known public symbol for equal racial rights in America and an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.
Her arrest sparked a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery, Alabama bus system. It also lead to a 1956 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning segregation on public transportation based on the 14th Amendment. She married Raymond Parks, who encouraged her to earn her high school diploma. Both she and her husband were active in the NAACP.1
“Stand for something, or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.” – Rosa Parks
Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation, but the NAACP believed she was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after the arrest.2 Her prominence in the community and her willingness to become a controversial figure inspired the black community to be part of the post-war civil rights movement’s first major direct action campaign.
Parks’ suffered for her act of defiance, and that is the point of highlighting her for her moral courage. She was fired from her seamstress job at a local department store. In addition, Parks received death threats. She acted as a private citizen in her lawsuit, she said, because she was “tired of giving in.” In her later years, before she passed away in 2005, she was active in the Black Power movement.
After her retirement, Parks wrote her autobiography, Rosa Parks: My Story (1999), where she describes her work in the Civil Rights movement. The book is a moving account of what she saw growing up in post-WWI America and her experiences leading up to her famous ride on the Montgomery bus.
Being an active member of any organization or movement means being strong, intellectually flexible, and have a tough skin. She always spoke from her heart and brain. That is what makes Rosa Parks different and still deserving for her moral act on that day 65 years ago.