Rosa Parks a truly brave black American woman died on Monday October 25 2005 at the age of 92. Rosa was born Rosa Louise McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama.
Most relate the beginning of the modern Civil Rights Movement to December 1st of 1955. Rosa Parks inspired a generation to fight for Civil Rights. Rosa was an unknown seamstress living in Montgomery Alabama. One day this brave woman refused to give her seat up to a white man. Rosa was arrested and fined for violating a city ordinance. But her act of defiance to such a horrible law began a movement that ended up putting an end to legal segregation in America. She became an admired inspiration to freedom loving people everywhere.
Montgomery’s segregation laws were complex and unfair blacks were required to pay their fare to the driver, then get off and re-board through the back door. Sometimes the bus would drive off before the paid customers made it to the back entrance. If the white section was full and another white customer entered, blacks were required to give up their seats and move farther to the back; a black person was not even allowed to sit across the aisle from whites. These humiliations were compounded by the fact that two-thirds of the bus riders in Montgomery were black.
In response to Rosa’s arrest black men and women in Montgomery Alabama boycotted or simply refused to ride the buses. They demanded an end to the segregation and all laws that denied equal rights to black people. It was at this time that a young black pastor led the boycott. This pastor was Martin Luther King Jr.
The bus system almost ended up bankrupt because of the boycott. The boycott lasted 381 days. The lives of blacks were threatened, churches were attacked. But the people still refused to ride the buses. Finally on November 1956 the U.S Supreme Court outlawed segregation on buses. Blacks began to ride the buses again and they were able to sit anywhere they chose.
Rosa Parks proved it just takes one brave soul to start things onto the path of change for the better. Not many can say their actions or conduct changed the face of an entire nation but Rosa Parks is one of the few who could say that.
President Clinton presented Rosa Parks with the Presidential Medal Of Freedom in 1996. She also received a Congressional Gold Medal.
If nothing else Rosa’s legacy is to stand up for what you believe in. If a law is unfair or unjust you just might make a difference to more people then you could ever imagine.