Black History Month: Rosa Parks

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Black History Month: Rosa Parks

Saloni Kainth, Staff Writer

On December 1st, 1955, Rosa Parks, an African American seamstress, refused to give up her seat in a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. Parks lived in an area where Jim Crow laws were enforced. Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation, but was mostly referred to the separation of African Americans from other races. These were racist laws that separated African Americans away from other society. African Americans were prohibited from certain public schools, drinking fountains, and pretty much weren’t considered equal with other races. Usually, the front part of a bus was reserved for white people and the back for African Americans. Parks was sitting in her seat when a white man asked for Parks to give up her seat because the “white” section was full. Parks refused to give up her seat while three other people obeyed and left. This sparked an initiation for the civil rights movement.

On that same day, Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat. However, word of her arrest spread quickly. After she was bailed out, Edgar Daniel Nixon, a civil rights leader who had hoped that he would find an African American to help protest against discrimination, was waiting for Parks. He later on convinced Parks to lead a protest along with her husband and mother. Nixon thought that African Americans should boycott buses on Park’s trial, since buses were the main type of transportation. On December 5th, flyers were passed out to everyone about the oncoming protest. At Park’s trial, she was found guilty for violating segregation laws, given a suspended sentence, and fined $14 in court costs. Later on, Nixon, along with some ministers, formed the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) after finding out that the boycott was larger than they had thought. They elected Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was new to the city and only 26 years old, as the MIA’s president.

The lawsuits went through courts and eventually reached the Supreme Court. Some white people, however, were getting angrier by the moment and eventually even bombed Nixon’s and Dr. King’s houses. This fight for freedom started gaining attention from international press. On November 13th, 1965, the Supreme Court ruled the bus segregation laws as unconstitutional and on December 20th, the boycott stopped. Rosa Parks became known as the “mother of the civil rights movement” and was an American activist. Parks eventually moved to Detroit after continuously facing harassment from people. In 1987, she co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development. She was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, which was the highest type of medal a civilian can receive.  She also wrote an autobiography called “Rosa Parks: My Story.” She died on October 24, 2005, at the age of 92. Rosa Parks became the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. capitol.

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