Facts about Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks died at 92 years old
Best known as: The civil rights icon who wouldn't give up her bus seat


Rosa Parks Biography

Name at birth: Rosa Louise McCauley

Rosa Parks became an icon of the American civil rights movement simply by refusing to give up her seat on a city bus.

In 1955, Rosa Parks was an African-American living in Montgomery, Alabama — a city with laws that strictly segregated blacks and whites. On December 1, 1955, after her day of work as a seamstress at a local department store, Rosa Parks boarded a city bus. When she refused to give up her seat to a white man, the bus driver called police, and Rosa Parks was arrested and fined.

The resulting bus boycott by African-Americans, led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., caused a national sensation. The boycott was a success and led to desegregation in Montgomery and elsewhere in the United States, making Rosa Parks a national icon of civil rights and African-American pride.

Rosa Parks was no stranger to the civil rights movement: she had been elected secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP in 1943, and was still serving in that role at the time of her arrest. She later moved to Michigan and worked as an aide to Congressman John Conyers, Jr. from 1966 until her retirement in 1988, and she founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development in 1987.

Rosa Parks was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Bill Clinton in 1996. After her death, she became the first woman ever to lay in honor in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building. She was pictured on a U.S. postage stamp in 2013.

Extra credit

Rosa Parks married Raymond Parks, a barber, in 1932, and they remained married until his death in 1977. They had no children. Raymond Parks was born in 1903… Her hometown of Tuskegee, Alabama was home to the Tuskegee Institute, which was led for many years by Booker T. Washington. He died in 1915, two years after Rosa Parks was born… Rosa Parks’s bus ride was reminiscent of Homer Plessy‘s refusal to leave an all-white rail car in Louisiana in 1892… Her refusal to relinquish her seat came nine months after teenager Claudette Colvin was arrested for the very same thing… Rosa Parks was played by Angela Bassett in the 2002 TV movie The Rosa Parks Story.


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