Where Are They Now? Civil Rights Figure Rosa Parks Part 1

About the famous black civil rights figure Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat on a bus, history and biography then and now.

9-DAY WONDERS--ON THE 10TH DAY

Headline--1955: ROSA PARKS

At the Peak: It was only a two-letter word and it was uttered quietly. But it was heard throughout the city of Montgomery, the state of Alabama, the United States of America, and the world. No. Rosa Parks said no. She would not give up her seat to a white man. No. She would not go stand at the back of the bus.

It was not a premeditated ploy for attention. She didn't plan to create an explosive situation. A rebel, gentle Rosa Parks was not. She simply was tired and her feet hurt. It had been a long day at the Montgomery Fair, the department store where she worked in alterations. Perhaps because she was weary, her tolerance for injustice was low. Anyway, slim as the proverbial straw, the neatly dressed seamstress managed by her action to break the patience of the people of her color and motivate them to unite and start overcoming.

It was after six o'clock on the cold, dark evening of Thursday, Dec. 1, 1955, that 42-year-old Rosa Parks, by remaining seated, stood up against discrimination. This caused her to be referred to often as the "mother of the civil rights movement."

The white man who had asked for her seat reported her unacceptable behavior to J. F. Blake, the bus driver. In recalling what happened on the bus, Mrs. Parks said, "The bus driver turned around and looked at me. "If you don't move,' he said, 'I'll call the police and have you arrested.'" She remembers saying, "Have me arrested. I'm not going to move."

Bus driver Blake explained later that he had no choice. He had his orders. At that time the code of Montgomery, Ala., in part read: "Every person operating a bus line shall provide equal accommodation...in such a manner as to separate the white people from the Negroes."

Arrested at the next stop by two officers, Rosa was fingerprinted and booked at the city jail. Within two hours, some 50 persons, including a few whites, showed up offering to sign the $100 bond for her release. It was Edgar Daniel Nixon who did. Nixon was head of the local NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Rosa Parks was a volunteer worker for the association. Mrs. Parks said she was glad she didn't have to remain in jail until her trial, which was set for Monday, four days away. She felt that already her husband and mother must be terribly worried about why she was so late getting home from work.

That weekend, indignant members of the black community went into action. They had been subjected many times to far worse treatment, but for some unexplainable reason the humiliation of a hardworking, nonviolent woman became their humiliation. A boycott of public transportation was planned. Car pools were arranged. Handbills were printed and distributed. The new pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, an unknown 26-year-old who had a way with words, was asked to be the spokesman for the protest. His name was Martin Luther King, Jr.

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