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Life and Legacy of Rosa Parks

Lifeand Legacy of Rosa Parks

RosaMcCauley Parks was born on 4thFebruary, 1913 and died at 92 in 2005. She was a Black-American rightactivist whom USC-United States Congress referred her as the motherof the freedom movement and first lady of right movement. The daywhen was born, 4thFebruary and 1stDecember 1955 the day she was arrested have been commemorated in thestates of U.S. such as Ohio and CaliforniaRosacreated international awareness on the plights of women and more sothe plight of black Americans who were segregated on the basis oftheir black colour for a better future for the generations.

On1stDecember 1955, in Alabama, she resisted segregation from the busdriver. The driver by the name James F. Blake`s commanded her to giveup her place in the bus to a white passenger in the bus. It was afterthe white part was filled and the white passenger was to be given aseat in the coloured part that was occupied by Rosa Parks. She wasnot the first passenger in history to resist racial segregation inbuses. There were other people who had acted in a similar wayincluded Morgan Irene, in `46, Sarah Louise in `55, and Browder v.Gayle lawsuit members but they were seized some months before Rosa. NAACP organizers were convicted that Rosa was the most desirableperson for considering through the challenge of the court after beingarrested for civil rights of segregation rules in Alabama. Her casesfinally became bogged down in the courts (Tracy12).

Rosaparks early Life

Shewas born to Leona and McCauley James in Tuskegee. She came from anAfrican Cherokee-Creek and Scots-Irish ancestry. In her childhood,she was a small child who time in time out suffered chronictonsillitis and overall poor health. When her parents divorced,together with her mother they moved to Pine Level, a place outsideMontgomery. She further grew up with her younger brother Sylvester,mother, and maternal grandparents on a farm. The whole family was amember of AME-African Methodist Episcopal Church, a church that hadbeen established long ago and incorporated the black Americans livingin Philadelphia at the beginning of 19thcentury (Kellaher45).

McCauleyjoined the rural primary schools in her neighbourhood until when shewas eleven. As a young student at The Industrial Girls School inMontgomery, Rosa was very active and thus took vocational andacademic courses. She further went to Laboratory school that wasstarted by Teachers College in Alabama for black Americans insecondary education. She later stopped attending school to take goodcare of her ailing mum and grandmother(Hanson100).

Inthe early 19thcentury, the former states Confederate had inaugurated new electorallaws and new constitutions that disfranchised effectively the blackvoters, as well as white poor voters in Alabama. Under theestablished white Jim Crow Laws after regaining control of thedemocrats on Sothern legislatures, segregation according to race wasimposed in the confines of public facilities and retails stores,inclusive of bus segregation. In the transport sector, train andbuses invested new seating rules with separate sections for bothwhite and blacks. At this point, school bus transportation in blackschool was unavailable and in addition, black education was alwaysunderfunded. Thus, there was a requirement to embrace a strategy thatwould ensure that segregation would end once and for all.

Inone instance, she remembered going to Pine Level elementary schoolswhere buses only took the white students to the new schools that wereestablished. In contrast, the blacks were forced to walk to theirschools. She further recalls how buses would every time pass her,which was a tradition since there was nothing they could do, butrather accept the custom. The bus context was the way she realizedthat there were two worlds white and black worlds (Kelleher46).

Inher life she recounts several instances of kindness showered untoher, but still, racism was apparent in the community. When Ku KluxKlan passed in the street near their home, her grandfather stood atthe door to guard against intrusion. Montgomery Industrial Schoolstaffed and funded by the whites for black American childrenexperienced major setbacks in its early history. For example, it wasburned twice by unknown arsonists. The white community excluded thefaculty of the school.

RaymondParks, a barber married her in 1932 in Montgomery. Raymond belongedto NAACP, which at one instances it, was collecting money in supportof Scottsboro Boys defence team who were accused falsely of rapingtwo white ladies. Rosa took different jobs ranging from hospitalaide to a domestic worker. Her husband urged her to complete highschool and thus completed in 1933. During this time, at most sevenpercent of the black Americans had a diploma. She registered the voteduring the third time of trial despite discrimination by registrarsand Jim Crow Laws (Hardyet al. 94).

Rosabecame active in December 1943 in the right`s movement for activism,was elected secretary and joined the chapter of Montgomery of theNAACP. she says in her biography that she was elected because theyneeded a secretary and since she was the only woman, she could notresist. Furthermore, she continued as a secretary till 1957. Shethen worked for NAACP leader E.D. Nixon. Nixon was a man who lookeddown upon women. In his statement, he said that women`s place was inthe kitchen. When Rosa Park asked him why she employed her, he saidthat it was only that he needed a secretary and since Rosa was a goodone, she got a job.

Inher secretarial roles, in 1944, she inquired on the gang that hadraped Recy Taylor, a black American woman. Together with other civilrights activist, she organized a body of persons for justice equalityfor Taylor. This was what was referred by Chicago Defender as thehealthy Campaign for justice equality to be experienced in 10 years.She attended Communist meetings together with her husband though theywere not members. They attended only because the case of Scottsborowas prominent in the context of the communist party and thus a viablechance to initiate a wave of revolution (Nobleman34).

Duringthe 1940s, Rosa together with her husband became Voters` Leaguemembers. Immediately after 1944, she got a brief role in Maxwell AirForce Base. Despite the air base being in the environments ofMontgomery, Alabama, they did not permit segregation on the basis ofrace. When she spoke to her biographer, she said that Maxwell airforce base opened her eyes. She then worked as a seamstress andhousekeeper for Virginia Durr and Clifford, a politically liberalwhite couple. The Durrs became her friends since from time to timethey encouraged and finally sponsored her to attend Highlander FolkSchool in the summer of 1955. This was a centre for activism in theright of workers and racial equality in Tennessee (Menkartet al. 123).

InAugust 1955, Emmett Till, a black teenager was murdered brutallyafter flirting with a white lady on his visit to his Mississippirelatives. On 27thNovember 1955, Rosa joined a meeting aimed to address the teenager’scase in Montgomery as well as Lamar Smith and George W. Lee murderingthat had just occurred. The speaker, T.R.M. Howard a black rightactivist from Mississippi led the council for negros in the regionalLeadership in coming up with viable strategies. The meeting was aimedat investing in new actions that could be embraced to defend theirrights (Benokraitis133).

Howshe became known

RosaParks was a woman who was known as a black American rights activist.After work, Rosa boarded Cleveland Avenue bus in 1stDecember 1955 at 6.00 pm.Nearly in the middle of the bus, therewere seats reserved for the whites. As the bus travelled through itsregular routes, all the spaces for the whites were completelyoccupied. As the bus stopped, several whites boarded the bus.

TheDrive of the bus noticed that three whites were standing up. Hechanged position of the colored part behind Rosa and commanded thatfour blacks to stand up. During this point, she felt a wave ofdetermination as a quilt in winter night. A black man who was seatingbeside her stood up, but she remained intact and refused to give herseat. The act of refusing to give the white man a seat helpedinitiate the civil rights movement. During that time, the localblack community leaders had organized a bus boycott. This resulted toher being convicted of segregation laws violation. Led by Rev MartinLuther king junior, they lead a boycott that lasted for a whole year.This further resulted to her losing her job and only the boycottended when the court said that it was unconstitutional to segregateblacks in transport system. For over the next half century, Rosaparks became recognized. She symbolizes strength and dignity in thequest to end the continued racial segregation that was apparent inUnited States of America (Nobleman 23).


Nixonand Jo Ann Robinson, a professor and WCP-Women’s Political CouncilMember conferred about the case of Rosa Parks. Jo Ann believed thatit was of importance to embrace the chance and thus took all the timein the night to reproduce more than 35,000 handbills stating a busboycott. WCP was the first group to endorse a boycott in the buses.On 4th December, announcement of the boycott was made inblack American churches within the confines of the black community.Montgomery Advertiser front page article enhanced the spread of theword. During a church rally, those in attendance unanimously agreedto continue with the boycott until the whites treated them withconsideration as human beings and not blacks. In the same regard,they were to continue with the boycott until black drivers were hiredand handling of the seat to be who came first and not on the basis ofrace (Wilson 100).

Thefollowing day, Rosa Parks was convicted on disorderly charges andlocal ordinance violation. The trial lasted for half an hour. She wasfined after being found guilty $10 and additional $4 at that time.She appealed and challenged that racial segregation was not legal.When Rosa was interviewed in 1992, she said she could not allowmistreatment on the basis of race since she never chose to be black.Furthermore, being deprived of the seat was a good way to express herfeelings.

Thatday, there were heavy rains and the black community had to endure.Some rode in Car pools while some travelled in cabs operated by theblack which charged the same fare as the public buses. The other40,000 blacks walked for 32 km (Benokraitis 37).The group came into a consensus that the new organization wasrequired in order to lead the boycott, if, by any chance, they wishedto continue. Rev. Ralph proposed MIA-Montgomery Improvementassociation to be incorporated. The name was proposed and theassociation formed. Martin Luther King junior, a little knownminister and a relative newcomer was elected as the president of MIA(Benokraitis 37).

Thatnight, 50 black American leaders discussed action in response to RosaPark’s arrest. Edgar Nixon, NAACP president, was dismayed at whatsegregation had put in their hands. Rosa was be was the perfectplaintiff against the case for state and city guidlines. She was seenas a mature, responsible, outstanding woman with a good reputation.She was employed and securely married thus possessing a dignified andquiet demeanor. In addition, she was politically knowledgeable.Martin Luther king regarded her as the finest Montgomery citizen andnot a fine Negro as they were referred.

Thecourt case against Rosa was slowed down in appeals that were made inAlabama law courts as they went to the Federal Appeals and thus theaspect could have taken a relatively longer time. Having a boycottfor such a long period would be strenuous. At the long run, theresidents in Montgomery continued with the boycott for one year and16 days (381 days). Many public buses at the time remained unoccupiedfor several months, thus damaging the financial position of TransitCompany. The boycott continued until the city reframed its lawsinstructing segregation on buses coupled with the ruling of the courtby stating that it was purely unconstitutional. Rosa was excluded asa plaintiff because Fred Gray, attorney general concluded that thecourts might perceive that they were trying to evade her chargesworking their paths through court system inAlabama (Wilson 302).

Rosaplayed a pivotal role in raising awareness internationally on theplights of African-Americans and struggle for civil rights strugglefor a better, more tranquil and infinite future for the cominggenerations. Martin Luther king Junior wrote in one of hisbook-strides to freedom that the arrest of Rosa was a catalyst ratherthan the cause of the protests. He said that no one could understandRosas` the acts of endurance unless he or she realizes that at thelong run, the endurance overflows and the personality of the person cries out, that is when the cup cannot be taken any longer (Freedman 107).


Claudettewas born on 5th September, 1939. She is among the firstpioneers of American Civil rights movement and the first to bearrested in 1955 for resting segregation in Montgomery, Alabama,preceding the publicized Rosa Park incident by nine months. She wasamong the women who testified in federal court case filed in 1956like v. Gayler, and testified before a panel of three judge benches.On 13th June 1956, the judges said that the local andstate laws requiring bus segregation was unconstitutional. The casewent further to U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled out on 17thDecember 1956. Three days later, the court presented an order toState and Montgomery to end bus segregation in Alabama.

ClaudetteColvin was a woman who was arrested before Rosa in 1955. Just as Rosahad done, she openly refused to release her place at the segregatedbus in Montgomery to a white passenger. Rosa was arrested nine monthsafter Colvin had been arrested. As a result, she was arrested andconvicted for violating segregation laws. Later a boycott organizedby the blacks help launch the modern movement for civil rightsactivists. During that time, she was 15 years old. Nevertheless, sheknew her rights well. In fact, she says that her civil disobediencewas after she studied the heritage in school and also hearing theteachers speak against injustices that were directed to blackAmericans including Jim Crow Laws. From this, she was inspired andthus could stand for her rights no matter the confines ofsegregation. Both Rosa Park and Claudette Colvin played a pivotalrole in bringing freedom among black Americans who were despisedsimply because they were black (Hoose 119).

Herdefiance did not spark a boycott as the arrest of Rosa did. She latertestified in Gayle case and the court declared segregation in bus aspurely unconstitutional. She would have been well known in the recentUnited Sates of America history book but the protests of Park ninemonths later sparked a wave of revolution that has been felt up todate. Rights activists believed that Rosa Park and Bus boycott wouldhave been totally different were it not the actions of Colvin. She isone woman who was a plaintiff from lawsuit including Mary Louise(Rosa &amp William 94).


RosaPark is a symbol of activism that has led to freedom felt in themodern day world. Racial prejudice is a recipe for race animosity andsegregation and at the long run the effects are diverse. Throughouthistory, many women have been on the front line in fighting for therights of human beings. Rosa created international awareness on theplights of women and more so the plight of black Americans who weresegregated on the basis of their black color for a better future forthe generations that would come. MartinLuther king Junior wrote in one of his book-strides to freedomsRosa`s arrest was the catalyst that propelled modern day activism. Inaddition, the simple acts of Claudette Colvin ignited a wave offreedom from segregation on the basis of race. At the time of arrest,Colvin was just but a teenager.


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