|Today, Rosa Parks (1914-) remains a heroine of the
Civil Rights Movement. The then forty-two-year-old black woman
refused to give up a bus seat to a white man on Thursday, December
1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama. The outcome of the seamstress'
civil disobedience was far greater than anyone anticipated.
At the time, African Americans were forced to ride on segregated
buses. Whites were to sit in the front, and blacks were forced to
sit in the back. In the event that the bus became filled, black
passengers were expected to give up their seats. Parks, who had
served in 1943 as secretary of her area's National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was ordered to give up
her seat when the bus became full, but she refused. She was then
arrested and put in jail.
Park's actions immediately initiated the effective and peaceful
Montgomery Bus Boycott. Martin Luther King, Jr. became the leader
of the boycott, and he later rose to become the most powerful
figure of the Civil Rights Movement.