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Rosa Parks

1913 – 2005

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Standing up for Sitting Down

While serving as secretary of her local NAACP, Rosa Parks ignited the civil rights movement with a single bus ride. In Montgomery, Alabama, in the 1950s, segregation laws applied to the seats on the city’s buses.  African-American men and women were required to pay their fare to the driver, then get off the bus and re-board the bus using the back door, sitting in the rear section. If the white section in the front was full, a black person had to give up his or her seat in the back, and more to further to the rear or stand. On December 1, 1955, Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus in Montgomery. She took her seat in the front row of “the colored section,” but was soon asked to move by a white person. Parks refused to give up her seat, and was arrested. She was arrested for violating the segregation laws.  On the first day of her trial, thousands of blacks boycotted Montgomery’s busses, walking to work or taking cabs driven by blacks. Montgomery’s bus boycott lasted 381 days, until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation violated the U.S. Constitution. 


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