Rosa Parks: Starting A Resistance That Caused A Movement
Rosa Parks boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1955. During that time, the seats at the back of the bus were the selected seats for all African Americans. Instead of sitting there, Parks decided to sit in front. Later on, the bus was now filled with white passengers, and Parks was asked by the bus driver to move back. Instead of obliging, Parks refused. Her refusal was considered one of the most significant social movements in history. It was called the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Rosa Louise McCauley, or Rosa Parks, was born on the 4th of 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. She studied in an all-girls industrial school and enrolled, later on, at the Alabama State University or formerly known as the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes. Unfortunately, Rosa had no choice but to drop out when her grandmother became ill. During her childhood, she faced numerous violence and racial discrimination. This led her to join the Civil Rights Movement.
At the age of 19, Parks married Raymond Parks, a local barber. Just like Rosa, Raymond was also active with his fight to end injustices due to race. With this, Rosa and Raymond did not only a couple but also partners in working for several social justice organizations. It paid off when Rosa became the Montgomery chapter’s secretary of the NAACP or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Montgomery chapter.
Rosa was a recognized leader and organizer in Alabama’s Civil Rights Movement by the time that she boarded the said bus earlier in 1955. Not only did Rosa refused to move and made her message clear about active resistance, but she also took part in organizing and planning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Most people simply brushed the instance off by depicting Rosa as a tired seamstress; hence, the refusal to move. It was later on denied by Rosa and revealed what the real motivation was for such an act. She said, “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. 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 forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
The courageous act of Rosa and followed by the Montgomery Bus Boycott led to some changes in Montgomery’s public transportation. While it is a brave act, it backfired on her. As a consequence, Rosa was placed in prison for not giving up her seat, and she was also got fired from her job due to her participation in the said boycott.
Rosa and her husband relocated to Hampton, Virginia, and settled permanently in Detroit, Michigan after the said boycott. It was in the Civil Rights Movement in Detroit that Rosa’s courage bore fruit. She still worked tirelessly to end the inequality that was prevalent in the city. On October 24, 2005, Rosa died of natural causes at the age of 92. But she left a rich legacy that will forever be etched against racial injustice and discrimination.
There is a child friendly book that tells the story of Rosa Parks. A great book to teach the little ones about history and take inspiration from one woman who had the courage to stand against what is wrong. You can get it here from Amazon.
Rosa Parks Quotes
Here is some Rosa Parks quotes.
- I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move.- Rosa Parks
- I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.- Rosa Parks
- I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.- Rosa Parks
- Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others. –Rosa Parks
- “Differences of race, nationality or religion should not be used to deny any human being citizenship rights or privileges.”
- “I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.”
- “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.”
- “Each person must live their life as a model for others.”
- “Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.”
- “Whatever my individual desires were to be free, I was not alone. There were many others who felt the same way.”
- “There is just so much hurt, disappointment, and oppression one can take… The line between reason and madness grows thinner.”
- “As far back as I can remember, I knew there was something wrong with our way of life when people could be mistreated because of the color of their skin.”
- “I was a person with dignity and self-respect, and I should not set my sights lower than anybody else just because I was black.”
- It was not pre-arranged. It just happened that the driver made a demand and I just didn’t feel like obeying his demand. I was quite tired after spending a full day working.
- The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute accepts people of any race. We don’t discriminate against anyone. We teach people to reach their highest potential. I set examples by the way I lead my life.
- It is not easy to remain rational and normal mentally in such a setting where, even in our airport in Montgomery, there is a white waiting room… There are restroom facilities for white ladies and colored women, white men and colored men. We stand outside after being served at the same ticket counter instead of sitting on the inside.
- “Have you ever been hurt and the place tries to heal a bit, and you just pull the scar off of it over and over again.”
- I had felt for a long time that, if I was ever told to get up so a white person could sit, that I would refuse to do so.
- “Whites would accuse you of causing trouble when all you were doing was acting like a normal human being instead of cringing.”
- “Even when there was segregation, there was plenty of integration in the South, but it was for the benefit and convenience of the white person, not us.”
No doubt Rosa Parks was a woman of courage whom we can all take inspiraton from. Just as James Allen writes how our thoughts shape our lives, Rosa Parks’ line of thinking gave her the courage to act against the status quo. It is people like her and Martin Luther King who thought differently that found the courage to rise up and create a more equal society that we have today.