Rosa Parks (1913 – 2005)

March 24, 2022

The first lady of civil rights made quite a statement in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama. 

Rosa Parks has been admired by many for years, and for good reason. Continue reading to learn more about Rosa Parks and her life story. 

Rosa Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an American civil rights activist primarily known for an incident in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. She refused to give up her seat in the colored row to a white man once the white section was at capacity, inspiring the black community, led by Martin Luther King Jr., to boycott the Montgomery Buses. This act eventually leads the courts to rule segregated seating on buses to be unconstitutional. The court ruling, and her resilience, led Parks to be a staple to the American Civil Rights movement, being coined “the first lady of civil rights.”

Before her involvement in the civil rights movement, Parks was born to her mother, Leona, and father, James, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her parent’s split very early in her life, and she was raised mainly by her mother and grandparents. Her grandparents, Rose and Sylvester Edwards, had been enslaved people who advocated heavily for racial equality. Park’s childhood was brimming racial adversity; however, her grandparents instilled a sense of pride in advocacy, creating a resilient woman.

Her family moved to Pine Level, Alabama, shortly after her birth, and at the age of just six years old, Parks began picking cotton with her grandparents. Her mother had taught her to read, and she began attending the rural Pine Level school. Once completing her primary education, Leona enrolled her in Montgomery Industrial School for Girls, a private school. She later attended Alabama State Teachers College High School, where she did not graduate due to her grandmother’s illness, which ultimately led to her death.

In December 1932, Parks married Raymond Park, who, unlike Parks’ was strictly self-educated. Due to segregation, he was never allowed a formal education, and his mother mainly taught him. His lack of primary education was a surprise, though, as many believed him to be college-educated as he was so well-spoken. Despite his lack of proper schooling, he strongly encouraged Parks’ to attain higher education, and she graduated in 1934.

Both Parks’ and her husband worked in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), leading their programs. It was during her early years with the organization that she endured the Montgomery Bus incident. Famous for their peaceful protests, black people in Montgomery banded together to bring justice for not only Parks but every black person forced to sit separately or give up their seat to a white person. During the Boycott, Parks worked as a dispatcher to coordinate rides and carpools for those needing to get around. She traveled around the country to educate people on the boycott, why it was happening, and why it was necessary.

Parks went ahead to live a free life, full of advocacy for black lives and equality, and always lending a hand to those seeking education on peaceful protest. She passed away peacefully in 2005, at 92-years old.

Even in death, many organizations are continually named in her honor and teach her methods and values.

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