(1913 - 2005)
Sat down to stand up for her rightsby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Rosa Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her mother raised her in her grandparent's farm. She went to "Miss. White's School for primary schooling. For junior high school she went to Booker T. Washington. She dropped out of school at age 16 to take care of her ill grandmother.
In December 1932, when she was nineteen years old, she married Raymond
Parks. He was ten years her senior. He was also active in the National
Association for Colored People (NAACP). This association is for the improvement
of the conditions for the blacks in the United States. A year later she
got her high school diploma and took a job in sewing to help out her family.
In 1943, she became the secretary for the NAACP. In the same year she attempted to vote, but was not successful until the third try in 1945. On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus with the rest of the blacks. She was arrested and convicted of violating the segregation laws. She was fined ten dollars plus four, for the costs of court.
The black community was furious with this, so they formed a boycott that was supposed to last one day and ended up lasting more than one year. They formed the Montgomery Improvement Association run by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They urged people not to ride the buses and help them find other ways to get around. In November 1956 the federal court ordered Montgomery buses to desegregate.
The boycott inspired other protest all over the south. Although the boycott was such a success, Rosa Parks and her husband both lost their jobs and suffered greatly from harassment and threats. They moved to Detroit, Michigan in August 1957. It was very hard for them to find jobs. In 1965 John Conyers, Jr., hired her to work in the Detroit office. She was there until she retired in1988.
She remained active in the NAACP and other organizations. She was given many awards and tributes, including the NAACP's highest honor, the Spingarn Medal, in 1970 and the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. award in 1980. A road in Montgomery was named after her. In September 6, 1996, President Bill Clinton awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This is the highest honor awarded to a civilian. In 1999 during the State of the Union Address, Bill Clinton recognized all the good things that she did. After this she received a standing ovation from the audience.