In Honor of Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks: The Foundation of the Civil Rights Movement

This weekend marks the anniversary of the day that Rosa Parks, a black seamstress, defied the law by refusing to give up her seat to a white man aboard a Montgomery, Ala., city bus in 1955. On December 1st, 1955, Parks, a 42-year-old mild-mannered seamstress living in the racially segregated South, boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.  For her act of defiance, Mrs. Parks was arrested, convicted of violating the segregation laws and fined $10, plus $4 in court fees.

Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement

However, her refusal to give up her seat to a white man led to a subsequent year-long boycott of the city’s bus system by Montgomery’s black residents, which was led by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who went on to become a central figure in the fight for equal rights for blacks during the 1960s.  But it was Rosa Parks’ quiet defiance of discrimination that rendered herself an important symbol of the burgeoning civil rights movement, laying the very foundation for the important later work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and others.

Rosa Parks: A Civil Rights Documentary

Rosa Parks died in Detroit on Monday, October 25th, 2005 at the age of 92.  The late civil rights icon was the first woman to lie in state in the U. S. Capitol Rotunda, a tribute usually reserved for presidents, soldiers and politicians.  Both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives voted to honor Parks with this extraordinary national homage.  “The movement that Rosa Parks helped launch changed not only our country, but the entire world, as her actions gave hope to every individual fighting for civil and human rights. We now can honor her in a way deserving of her contributions and legacy,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat.  According to the Architect of the Capitol, the Capitol Rotunda had been used for this honor only 28 times since 1852.  Other Americans so honored have included Presidents Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson and World War II General Douglas MacArthur.  Shamefully, despite the many posthumous honors and accolades, Rosa Parks died in a state of abject poverty, with none of the major human rights organizations offering to provide even the smallest amount of financial support to meet her meager, basic living needs during the later part of her life.

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