Celebrating Black History: Rosa M. Parks

Happy Birthday to Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005)   

She was an African American civil rights activist, whom the United States Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”. Her birthday, February 4, and the day she was arrested, December 1, have both become Rosa Parks Day, commemorated in California and Missouri (February 4), and Ohio and Oregon (December 1).

On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake’s order to give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. 

(December 1st is a great day in history and my family since it’s the day one of my daughters was born.)

Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation. Others had taken similar steps, including Bayard Rustin in 1942, Irene Morgan in 1946, Sarah Louise Keys in 1952, and the members of the ultimately successful Browder v. Gayle lawsuit (Claudette Colvin, Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith) who were arrested in Montgomery for not giving up their bus seats months before Parks. 

NAACP organizers believed that Parks was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience in violating Alabama segregation laws, although eventually her case became bogged down in the state courts while the Browder v. Gayle case succeeded.

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