Born on 4th February 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama, African-American activist Rosa Parks ignited the Montgomery bus boycott which lead to strong societal efforts to end racial segregation of public facilities.
Click ‘Read more‘ to find out more about the life of Rosa Parks
In Montgomery, Alabama a law of segregation meant that the front of the buses was reserved for white people only and the back seats were for African-Americans. However, if the front seats were full an African-American person had to give up their seat for a white person. On 1st December 1955 Rosa Parks caught the Montgomery Cleveland Avenue bus home from her job as a seamstress. As the bus went along its route it eventually became full and the driver asked 4 people in the “coloured” section to stand up to allow white passengers to sit. 3 of them got up but Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat – she was arrested at the scene and was placed in police custody.
The Montgomery bus boycott
After news of Rosa Parks’ arrest spread, civil rights leader E.D Nixon started to plan a boycott of Montgomery city buses. On 5th December 1955, the day of Rosa’s trial, African-Americans refused to use the Montgomery city buses in protest of her arrest. The boycott carried on for several months and with most bus users being African-American the bus companies were struggling financially. Many buses were left not running. In mid-1956 the district court declared racial segregation laws unconstitutional and the city of Montgomery had no choice but to lift its enforcement of segregation on public buses. Rosa’s act of brave defiance in an era of such hatred was to set a precedence for decades of further civil rights activity.
Rosa Parks quotes
“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 no, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.”