Rosa Parks: One For All
It was 56 years ago today that Rosa Parks stood up – or rather sat down for the rights of fellow African-Americans. It was Dec. 1, 1955, and segregation was still legal in America so when Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger, it resulted in her arrest for violating a city ordinance. Historians cite Park’s act of deviance as the beginning of the modern civil rights movement.
Parks was subsequently convicted for her act of protest in Montgomery, Ala., but her appeal and a bus boycott garnered worldwide publicity, and eventually a U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down the Montgomery regulation allowing for segregation on public transit.
Parks was no stranger to challenging the status quo; she and husband, Raymond, were members of the local NAACP chapter and worked on cases of discrimination and racial violence, Yet it was her own civil disobedience that inspired change, not to mention the creation of the Montgomery Improvement Association, led by the young pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Parks moved to Detroit a few years later where Mrs. Parks served on the staff of African-American U.S. Representative John Conyers for 23 years. After retiring, she wrote an autobiography and continued work with the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, which she founded after her husband’s death in 1977. Parks was distinguished with numerous awards later in life and laid in state for two days after her death in 2005 – an honour normally reserved for presidents.