Today we celebrate the birthday of The First Lady of Civil Rights and The Mother of the Freedom Movement, Rosa Parks, an iconic figure in the Civil Rights movement.
Parks in her act of not giving up her seat became an international icon of resistance and agent of change. At the time of her courageous move, Parks was a seamstress and secretary at the NAACP.
As a result of her actions on December 1st, 1955 Parks was fired from her job, but was presented with a bigger opportunity for the NAACP — Parks was the subject of death threats for many years following the incident which forced her to leave her home in Montgomery, AL.
While it has been widely documented that Parks was not the first to resist giving up their seat to injustice, she was considered the best candidate in court to challenging the ruling authority.
Nine months earlier, 15 year-old Claudette Colvin was arrested in Montgomery for refusing to give up her seat. However, in addition to local leaders being hesitant about her temperament on the stand, she was pregnant by a married man and not looked upon favorably by her community.
Parks on the other hand already worked in the NAACP offices, was an older member of the community, and was described as being mild-mannered. It was a strategic move to make Rosa Parks the face of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, but one that proved necessary in fighting racial segregation.
You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right. – Rosa Parks
While Parks arrest was meant to be the impetus for a one-day boycott, it ended up lasting over a year (381 days) with over 20,000 regular riders no longer traveling by bus. The result of which were desegregated bus lines and better treatment of black Americans.
We pay homage to the late Rosa Parks for her courage and activism.