The story of a woman who refused to give away her seat in a bus in protest of segregation is told in most parts of the world. This is the story of Rosa Parks. In United States, Rosa Parks is regarded as a heroine for the oppressed, and more so amongst the African Americans. She is an icon worth of emulation. She set the trend fro the fight against and the eventual victory on the war against racial segregation.
Rosa Park was not born any different from other African American children; she was born in a society influenced by racial stereotypes and segregation. Rosa Parks was born in February 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. She received her basic education from a rural school in Alabama. She enrolled in Montgomery Industrial School and later attended Alabama State Teachers College (Parks 33). During this period, Rosa struggled to support her ailing mother and grandmother and was not able to move out of her rural home until 1934 when she moved to Montgomery with her husband Raymond. In Montgomery, she joined National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a movement that fights for the rights of colored people (Parks 67). It is while in NAACP that Rosa Park begun her involvement in the direct improvement of the lives of blacks in the south. This was challenging work since she had no support to help get her message across. However, Rosa received support from her mother, who encouraged her to make good use of the few opportunities she received.
City Bus incident
The lives of blacks in Alabama and other parts of the country were hard. Segregation was the order of the day, after the ruling white had passed segregate laws. One of the areas faced with open segregation was public transportation. Seats in public transport buses had sections based on racial categories. Accordingly, whites always had reserved seats (Ashby 55). The law expected African Americans to give up their seats in public transport buses to the Whites. This trend in public buses seemed to be normal until December 1, 1955 when Rosa made her brave action. On this day, Rosa was going home on a city bus after a long day at work. When Rosa got in the city bus, she found a seat among the rows set aide for the Whites (Ashby 45). However, a city ordinance declared that even if an African American was sitting in the back of the bus, they were to give up their seat if a white person needed a seat. When passengers had already filled up the bus, the Blacks had to move towards the back, and give seats to the Whites. This would mean that the blacks were in fact surrendering their seats to the whites. Rosa declined to give up her seat (Biographiq 97). This move led to her arrest and later fined for violating the city ordinance.
Public bus boycott
Rosa was determined to see equality done, even if it meant losing her freedom. Although she admitted that she had not arranged for the protest, she was determined to make sure that she would not be humiliated again in public transport. Although there were similar protests by African American against segregation in public transport, the brave action by Rosa was a new dawn for the African Americans. After receiving information on the brave action by Rosa, Martin Luther King Jr. assisted Rosa and other activists to organize a bus boycott in Montgomery. As about three quarters of all bus riders in the place were black, this boycott led to huge financial losses for the bus companies. Although the Whites threatened and harassed Blacks involved in the boycott, nonetheless, Rosa’s determination acted as a unifying factor. (Parks 71). Despite of the threat and harassment, the boycott led by Rosa lasted for 382 days when the state agreed to revoke the ordinance. Realizing that the Blacks were determined to continue with their boycott, the Supreme Court addressed the matter by revoking the ordinance on which Rosa had been fined and outlawed segregation in public transport. This was a great success against racial segregation and discrimination.
The brave action by Rosa Park gave her the title, ‘mother of modern day civil right movement’. Many African American were discontented with segregation laws in the country but most of them did not protest against it. Compliance to oppressive laws, however, led to increased segregation and discrimination of people of colors. This action by Rosa acted as a spark to civil right protest against segregation not only in America but also in other part of the world. There is no doubt that Rosa is one of the most important civil right activists in the world. Despite of her death in 2005, Rosa will be remembered for her contribution to racial equality.
Ashby, Ruth. Rosa Parks: freedom rider. New York: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2008.
Biographiq. Rosa Parks – The Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement. New York: Filiquarian Publishing, LLC, 2008.
Parks, Rosa. Quiet strength: the faith, the hope, and the heart of a woman who changed a nation. New York: Zondervan Pub. House, 1995.