Celebrating Rosa Parks 65 Years After Her Historic Stand In MontgomeryDec 01, 2020 08:00AM ● By Kassidy Garland
On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. After a long day of work at a department store, Parks, 42 at the time, refused to stand for a White passenger when asked by the bus driver, James Fred Blake. Because this was her second experience with Blake, Parks made her stand and said no. In her autobiography, Parks elaborated:
“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.”
At this point in history, The Montgomery City Code required that all public transportation be segregated. White passengers were given the front half of the bus, while Black passengers were forced to the back of the bus. Many were required to pay at the front of the bus, and then re-board at the designated “colored” door.
Rosa Parks and her husband Raymond worked alongside multiple social justice organizations. In 1955, she was voted the secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP.
When Parks refused to give up her seat, two police officers placed her under arrest. After Raymond received his wife’s one phone call, news of her arrest spread quickly, and E.D. Nixon, a prominent Civil Rights leader, was waiting for her when she was released. On December 5, she was found guilty and ordered to pay $14 total in fines and court costs.
Rosa Parks’s act of defiance and subsequent arrest thrust the Civil Rights Movement into full force. The day of her trial, African-American community members were asked to abstain from using the bus system. With the overwhelming participation of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, several Civil Rights leaders formed the MIA, Montgomery Improvement Association, to manage and further organize their efforts. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a 26 year-old Reverend, new to the area, served as the MIA’s president.
The bus boycott lasted for several months, crippling the public transformation system. After a total of 381 days, in June of 1956, the district court declared racial segregation laws to be unconstitutional. The city of Montgomery appealed the court's decision, taking it to the U.S. Supreme Court. On November 13, 1956, the court’s ruling was upheld, and segregation on public transportation was ruled unconstitutional.
Due to Rosa Parks’s refusal to give up her seat to a White passenger, the Montgomery Boycott became one of the largest and most successful efforts in the Civil Rights Movement.
Kassidy Garland has had a great appreciation for reading and writing since she was young. She graduated from West Chester University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English & Women and Gender Studies. With a concentration in creative writing, Kassidy has 5 years of experience writing blogs, articles, and for social media. Based out of Philadelphia, Kassidy loves to write about a number of topics and looks forward to sharing her passion with those at FunTimes Magazine.