For both Black History Month and her birthday, we honor Rosa Parks
Today, February 4th, the world celebrates the birthday of the late Rosa Parks. Referred to by many as the first lady of civil rights, Parks was an instrumental figure in the fight for justice and equality. She was the catalyst for an important movement that we still recognize and remember today.
Why is Rosa Parks famous?
On December 1st, 1955, Parks set off a ripple in history.
In Montgomery, Alabama, where Parks lived, half of all bus seats were reserved for white people (though 80% of bus riders were African American). It was mandated that African Americans move to the back or stand if there were not enough seats for white people. When the bus driver, James Blake, told Parks to move to the back of the bus, she refused, and was arrested.
"People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in. I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move. Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it."
The Rosa Parks bus boycott is her remembered act of defiance in the face of racial injustice.
The boycott, inspired by Parks’s arrest, lasted 381 days. The public bus companies lost 75% of their riders, realizing that their unjust laws were a detriment to everyone involved. Finally, after 12 and a half months of protest, segregation on public buses was outlawed.
Though she passed away on October 24th, 2005, Parks continued to fight against injustice for the entirety of her life. If you take inspiration from anything this Black History Month, take it from this courageous, steadfast woman.