Rarely has such an insignificant act become a real act of protest against injustices, in this case against racial segregation. Rosa Parks, a humble black seamstress, has become a symbol of civil rights by refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger, defying an unjust rule.
It ended up being arrested and tried, and what might have been just another injustice to the many blacks who had to suffer in the 1950s, became a protest that showed how African Americans can destabilize and overthrow a racist system. .
Below, we’ll find out about this anti-racist benchmark’s life trajectory, what she did and how she has been widely remembered and decorated since her incident with the bus seat, through a biography of Rosa Parks.
Brief biography of Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama, United States. Her parents were James, a carpenter, and Leone McCauley, a teacher who would teach little Rose to read from an early age. When Rosa was only two years old, her parents separated, moving in with her mother to her maternal grandparents Rose and Sylvester Edwards’ house in Pine Level.
Her grandparents would be very important to Rosa in her fight against racial inequalities for they were former slaves and ardent defenders of equality. Additionally, Rosa Parks would be marked from her childhood seeing how one day her grandfather had to stand outside his house with a shotgun while members of the Ku Klux Klan marched down the street.
While at Pine Level and thanks to her mother teaching her to read, Rosa Parks was able to attend the local school which, like most country schools, was isolated. The treatment between white and black students was obvious. While whites had a bus donated by the municipality and could take lessons in a new building, blacks had to walk to class and barely had materials for quality lessons.
Rosa he had to quit his studies at the age of 16 because his mother and grandmother got sick and he had to take care of them. Although she could not resume, she managed to find a job as a seamstress in a shirt factory in the town of Montgomery, but she was able to survive. In 1932, at just 19, she married Raymond Parks, a barber by profession and an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). It was thanks to Raymond’s help that Rosa was able to graduate from high school a year later.
After graduating, Rosa Parks became actively involved in the struggle for civil rights. joining the NAACP in 1943 and serving as youth leader and secretary to association president Edgar Daniel Nixon, A position he held until 1957. The Parks couple never had children, but what they did have was a very demanding life together which gave them a very high reputation in the struggle for the rights of African Americans.
Sitting for equality
On December 1, 1955, the event that changed the lives of Rosa Parks and thousands of African Americans took place. On that day, Rosa Parks would end up being arrested for a very simple and trivial fact: not to give up the siege. She didn’t give up not because she was tired, but because she was exhausted that whites were being treated with privileges at the expense of blacks. His legal obligation, though unfair, was to have to cede his seat to this white citizen who wanted it.
The Montgomery city code at the time was clearly racist. He demanded that all public transport be segregated and that vehicle drivers have the same powers as a police officer when in charge of the bus, enforcing racial regulations. Drivers were to allocate separate seats to black and white passengers, marking a line in the middle of the bus: Whites were in the lead, African Americans behind.
However, this division could be changed depending on the number of targets on the bus. If the bus was filled with whites, those of color were forced to give up their seats and back up or stand up, which happened on December 1, 1955. The vehicle in which Rosa Parks was traveling filled up with white and the driver gave her to her. told, along with three other black passengers, to relinquish their seats. The regulations allowed the driver to call the police in the event of a refusal.
The other three passengers got up and obeyed the driver, but Parks refused, Even though I knew what it meant. She was going to sit down, she was not going to give up her place to be black. This courageous act will go down in history as one of the most important manifestations of the 20th century, with many social and political repercussions. With her gesture, Rosa Parks was arrested and charged with violating Chapter 6, Section 11 of the Montgomery City Code. She was taken to the police headquarters and the same night she was released on bail.
A few days later, on December 5, the trial against Rosa Parks took place. The event unfolded like wildfire and at the entrance to the court a lively crowd of 500 people were waiting to support him. Earlier today, a group of African American leaders gathered at Mount Zion Church in Montgomery to discuss strategies and decide to promote a bus boycott. This is how the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was born, which saw the Rosa Parks case as the perfect opportunity to initiate real change.
After a 30-minute hearing, Rosa Parks was found guilty of violating the local ordinance and ordered to pay a fine of $ 10 along with 4 other court costs. MIA called on African Americans in Montgomery not to use city buses in protest. Since most blacks do not usually use the bus, protest organizers felt their strong suit must be the weather.. The longer the boycott lasted, the more pressure would be exerted.
This fine of $ 14, which may seem small to us, was extremely unfair and important both for the reason it was put in and for the pocket of an African American woman in her fifties. This is why the call for a boycott was followed closely, leaving city buses empty. The 40,000 black travelers who used them decided that from then on they would go to work on foot, some even having to walk 30 kilometers.
Blacks, so long despised and disenfranchised, have discovered how through their actions they can destabilize a racist white society. By stopping to use the public buses, many of them stopped, which severely damaged the finances of the transport company. Regardless of the number of black second-class citizens, their boycotting the use of transportation resulted in severe losses for both transportation and the town of Montgomery.
Of course many segregationists orchestrated violent reprisals against the black population. African-American churches were set on fire and the homes of Martin Luther King and ED Nixon were razed to the ground. There were also African Americans who tried to end the boycott, as many of them were already tired of traveling long distances to get to work. Injustices continued to ensue, with many blacks arrested on the pretext that a very old-fashioned law banning boycotts was enforced.
In response to this harsh retaliation, members of the African American community have taken legal action, Bringing the Transit System Segregation Case to Intermediate District Court for the U.S. District of Alabama. The complainant was Rosa Parks’ lawyer, Fred Gray.
In June 1956, the notorious segregationist “Jim Crow Laws” were declared unconstitutional by the district court. However, the town of Montgomery appealed the sentence on November 13, 1956, in a clear attempt to move from forward with its racist system and suppress blacks. Likewise, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Rosa Parks case, declaring transportation segregation unconstitutional.
Legal advice along with the financial losses associated with the boycott led the town of Montgomery to reluctantly lift the application of segregation on public buses in December 1956. Through the combination of legal action and the determination of the African American community to maintain its boycott, that lasted 381 days, they managed to come closer to racial equality. By not giving up her Rosa Parks seat it gave birth to one of the largest and most successful mass movements in American racial history.
After the boycott
After becoming a symbol of the civil rights movement, in addition to gaining widespread fame, Parks could not save himself from being the victim of retaliation. She and her husband were laid off from their respective jobs and couldn’t find a new one in Montgomery, so they had to leave town and move to Detroit with Rosa’s mother.
In her new town Rosa Parks the United States representative, John Conyer, would work as secretary and receptionist in the congressional office. He also served on the board of directors of the American Family Planning Federation. In 1987, he and his friend Elaine Eason Steele founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development.
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks died on October 24, 2005 in her 92-year-old apartment in Detroit, Michigan. due to a myocardial infarction. The previous year, he had been diagnosed with progressive dementia, which had probably been manifested since 2002. His death, as well as his iconic settlement incident, did not go unnoticed, attracting attention by all means and having a resounding burial.
He was buried in the Washington Capitol, where about 50,000 people gathered. She became the first black woman and the second person to receive a state burial of a similar caliber, granted to just 28 people in US history. She was then buried next to her husband and mother at Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery. Soon after, it would become a chapel called Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel.
Rosa Parks has received numerous accolades for her courage and advocacy for equality and the rights of African Americans. In its decorations we find the Spingarn Medal, which is the most important award of the NAACP, in addition to the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Award September 15, 1996 President Bill Clinton awarded Parks the Presidential Medal of Freedom, The highest honor that can conceive of the American executive. The following year, he won the Congressional Gold Medal, donated by the US Legislature.
In 1999, TIME magazine named Parks one of the 20 most influential people of the 20th century. In 2000, the University of Troy opened the Rosa Parks Museum located on the same site where she was arrested in 1955. On February 4, 2013, the day Rosa Parks turned 100, the date was set by issuing a commemorative US Postal Service stamp called the “Rosa Parks Forever” stamp. In February of the same year, President Barack Obama unveiled a statue in his honor on Capitol Hill.
- Beito, David T .; Royster Beito, Linda (2009). Black Maverick: TRM Howard’s Struggle for Civil Rights and Economic Power. Urban: University of Illinois Press. pages 138 to 39.
- Garrow, David J (1986). Carrying the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. ISBN 0-394-75623-1, p. 13.
- Parks, Rosa; James Haskins (1992). Rosa Parks: My story. Mark books. p. 116. ISBN 0-8037-0673-1.