MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — A simple act of defiance becomes a moment of courage as the country remembers Rosa Parks, “the mother of the freedom movement.”
Tuesday marks the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which would not have happened without the actions of Parks.
While her days were spent working as a seamstress, Parks spent her free time becoming involved in civil rights issues and joined the NAACP.
On Dec. 1, 1955, she left her job at a department store and boarded a public bus to head home. She sat in a section reserved for “colored” passengers. When the bus began to fill up, the driver told Parks to give up her seat to a white passenger, she refused and was subsequently arrested.
Rosa’s actions sparked an idea in the African American community to boycott the buses. The news spread like wildfire, and the plummeting ridership led to idle buses and financial hardship for the city’s transit system.
In 1956, Jim Crow laws were declared unconstitutional, and the city of Montgomery had no choice but to end segregation on public buses.
The 381-day boycott ended in success on December 20, 1956.
However, that success was fleeting for Parks as both she and her husband lost their jobs and were unable to find work in Montgomery.
They moved to Detroit, Michigan, in hopes of rebuilding their lives and Parks found work as a secretary for U.S. Representative John Conyers.
After her husband died, she founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development. She then went on to become an author, publishing two books that recount her life and the role that faith played in it.
On October 24, 2005, Rosa Louise McCauley Parks died in her Detroit home, at the age of 92.
Even in death, Rosa Parks’ legacy remained strong. Flags were flown at half-staff, and more than 50,000 people made their way to the Capitol rotunda, where she lay in state.