HISTORY CHALLENGE
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ROSA PARKS

CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST (1913-)

There is about her name no discernible ring nor aura of distinction.  There is about her dress and manner no singular, commanding, or memorable uniqueness.  Her story, however is one of the most inspirational to come out of the civil rights movement, a simple message to all that human dignity cannot interminably be undermined by brute force.  On the evening of December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama, took a seat with the other passengers, and prepared to relax for 15 minutes or so before arriving home.  As the bus began to fill up, however, the number of seats dwindled until, within a few minutes, there were none left.  As soon as the white bus driver noticed that a Black woman was occupying a seat in the "white" section of the bus while a White passenger was standing, he ordered the "offender" to the rear.

The "offender" did not make a scene when she refused.  She did not scream; she did not whine; she did not threaten; she did not exhort.  She simply did not move, thus forcing those who would force her to move to make the next move.  Rosa Parks was arrested, jailed and brought to trial while the rest  of the once quiescent Black community refused to ride public buses.  Mrs. Parks was the catalyst in the Montgomery boycott, the first confrontation which brought the name of Martin Luther King, Jr., into the ears of America.  Mrs. Parks paid dearly for courage.  Her husband, a barber, became ill from the pressure, the family ultimately moved to Detroit, where Parks resumed his profession. 

Mrs. Parks did sewing and alterations at home until she found a job as a dressmaker.  In Detroit, she became active in youth work, job guidance, cultural and recreational planning.  Dr. King, once called her "the great fuse that led to the modern stride toward freedom."  She made the stride while sitting still.  Mrs. Parks was a receptionist-secretary to Representative John Conyers.  A religious person, she serves as deaconess of St. Matthews A.M.E. church in Detroit.  She has accepted many speaking engagements because she wants to help young people grow, develop, and reach their potential. 

Revised: July 18, 2013.