View Full Version : Rosa Parks died at 92

10-25-2005, 03:36 PM
Rosa Parks was a very brave woman and someone who should be considered a hero by all Americans. It took a lot of guts to do wat she did in the environment and times she lived in. Such a simple gesture, no violence, no cursing or shouting, just a simple refusal to get out of her seat, which led to her arrest and set in motion so much change.

Civil rights icon Rosa Parks dies at 92 (http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/10/25/parks.obit/index.html)
Long known as the 'mother of the civil rights movement'
Tuesday, October 25, 2005; Posted: 12:20 p.m. EDT (16:20 GMT)

(CNN) -- Rosa Parks, whose act of civil disobedience in 1955 inspired the modern civil rights movement, died Monday in Detroit, Michigan. She was 92.

Parks' moment in history began in December 1955 when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama.

Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system by blacks that was organized by a 26-year-old Baptist minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The boycott led to a court ruling desegregating public transportation in Montgomery, but it wasn't until the 1964 Civil Rights Act that all public accommodations nationwide were desegregated.

Facing regular threats and having lost her department store job because of her activism, Parks moved from Alabama to Detroit in 1957. She later joined the staff of U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat.

Conyers, who first met Parks during the early days of the civil rights struggle, recalled Monday that she worked on his original congressional staff when he first was elected to the House of Representatives in 1964.

"I think that she, as the mother of the new civil rights movement, has left an impact not just on the nation, but on the world," he told CNN in a telephone interview. "She was a real apostle of the nonviolence movement."

He remembered her as someone who never raised her voice -- an eloquent voice of the civil rights movement.

"You treated her with deference because she was so quiet, so serene -- just a very special person," he said, adding that "there was only one" Rosa Parks.

Gregory Reed, a longtime friend and attorney, said Parks died between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. of natural causes. He called Parks "a lady of great courage."

Parks co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development to help young people pursue educational opportunities, get them registered to vote and work toward racial peace.

"As long as there is unemployment, war, crime and all things that go to the infliction of man's inhumanity to man, regardless -- there is much to be done, and people need to work together," she once said.

Even into her 80s, she was active on the lecture circuit, speaking at civil rights groups and accepting awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999.

"This medal is encouragement for all of us to continue until all have rights," she said at the June 1999 ceremony for the latter medal.

Parks was the subject of the documentary "Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks," which received a 2002 Oscar nomination for best documentary short.

In April, Parks and rap duo OutKast settled a lawsuit over the use of her name on a CD released in 1998.

Bus boycott
She was born Rosa Louise McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama, on February 4, 1913. Her marriage to Raymond Parks lasted from 1932 until his death in 1977.

Parks' father, James McCauley, was a carpenter, and her mother, Leona Edwards McCauley, a teacher.

Before her arrest in 1955, Parks was active in the voter registration movement and with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, where she also worked as a secretary in 1943.

At the time of her arrest, Parks was 42 and on her way home from work as a seamstress.

She took a seat in the front of the black section of a city bus in Montgomery. The bus filled up and the bus driver demanded that she move so a white male passenger could have her seat.

"The driver wanted us to stand up, the four of us. We didn't move at the beginning, but he says, 'Let me have these seats.' And the other three people moved, but I didn't," she once said.

When Parks refused to give up her seat, a police officer arrested her.

As the officer took her away, she recalled that she asked, "Why do you push us around?"

The officer's response: "I don't know, but the law's the law, and you're under arrest."

She added, "I only knew that, as I was being arrested, that it was the very last time that I would ever ride in humiliation of this kind."

Four days later, Parks was convicted of disorderly conduct and fined $14.

That same day, a group of blacks founded the Montgomery Improvement Association and named King, the young pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, as its leader, and the bus boycott began.

For the next 381 days, blacks -- who according to Time magazine had comprised two-thirds of Montgomery bus riders -- boycotted public transportation to protest Parks' arrest and in turn the city's Jim Crow segregation laws.

Black people walked, rode taxis and used carpools in an effort that severely damaged the transit company's finances.

The mass movement marked one of the largest and most successful challenges of segregation and helped catapult King to the forefront of the civil rights movement.

The boycott ended on November 13, 1956, after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that Montgomery's segregated bus service was unconstitutional.

Parks' act of defiance came one year after the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision that led to the end of racial segregation in public schools.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a Democrat, told CNN Monday he watched the 1955-56 Montgomery drama unfold as a teenager and it inspired him to get active in the civil rights movement.

"It was so unbelievable that this woman -- this one woman -- had the courage to take a seat and refuse to get up and give it up to a white gentleman. By sitting down, she was standing up for all Americans," he said.

10-25-2005, 03:51 PM
Parks felt 'determination cover my body like a quilt' (http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/10/25/parks.greenhaw/index.html)

By Wayne Greenhaw
Special to CNN
Tuesday, October 25, 2005; Posted: 1:56 p.m. EDT (17:56 GMT)

Editor's note: Journalist and writer Wayne Greenhaw is co-author with Donnie Williams of the recently published book "The Thunder of Angels: The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the People who Broke the Back of Jim Crow." Greenhaw wrote this article after Rosa Parks' death.

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (CNN) -- Rosa Parks was a mite of a woman who cast a mighty shadow.

Quiet, unassuming, shy, she appeared to be the antithesis of the symbol of a worldwide movement. Yet her simple action and strong determination embodied the power of the civil rights movement that was born after she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus on December 1, 1955.

When James F. Blake, the white driver of the bus, stepped toward the back of the bus and neared the "colored" sign behind which Mrs. Parks sat, she recognized him as the same driver who had been abusive toward her in 1943.

At that earlier time he'd ordered her off the bus on which she was riding after a disturbance broke out among other black riders.

Since then, she'd made it a practice never to ride a bus he was driving. On this evening, however, she supposed she was just too tired to pay attention to the driver. She'd simply gotten on, paid her dime, and found her seat.

When Blake ordered the blacks sitting on Mrs. Parks' row to move, two black women across the aisle began gathering their things. Mrs. Parks, who was sitting in an aisle seat, shifted to allow room for the black man who was sitting next to the window to move.

When Blake asked her, "Are you going to stand up?" she took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "No," she said plainly.

"Well, I'm going to have you arrested," Blake said.

Then, very clearly, she said, "You may do that."

Although she had attended the Highlander Folk School where Myles Horton taught civil disobedience and peaceful integration, and although she had been E.D. Nixon's part-time secretary in the local NAACP office, she told me years later, "When I got on the bus that evening I wasn't thinking about causing a revolution or anything of the kind. I was thinking about my husband, how he'd spent his day at the barber shop at Maxwell Air Force Base, where he worked. I was hoping he'd had a good day. I was thinking about my back aching and about the pretty sights and sounds of Christmas. I was thinking about how we were going to have a good time this Christmas, and everybody was going to be happy.

"But when that white driver stepped back toward us, when he waved his hand and ordered us up and out of our seats, I felt a determination cover my body like a quilt on a winter night. I felt all the meanness of every white driver I'd seen who'd been ugly to me and other black people through the years I'd known on the buses in Montgomery. I felt a light suddenly shine through the darkness.

"I'd been happy early in the year when Claudette Colvin had been arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus. I'd been with Mr. Nixon when he'd declared it exactly what the black community needed. I'd seen the light in his eyes at the thought of being able to fight against the oppression of the laws that were keeping us down. I'd called my white lady friend Virginia Durr and we started calling folks to alert them to what was going to happen. We knew we were going to have to have help for a long struggle.

"Then I saw the hurt in Mr. Nixon's eyes when he found out the Claudette Colvin case wasn't the one we could use. I saw the silent hurt take over. But I wasn't thinking about all of that while I sat there and waited for the police to come.

"All I could think about, really and truly, was the Lord would help me through all of this. I told myself I wouldn't put up no fuss against them arresting me. I'd go along with whatever they said. But I also knew I wasn't gonna give up my seat just because a white driver told me to; I'd already done that too many times. As soon as they arrested me, I knew, I'd call Mr. Nixon and let him know what had happened. Then we'd see."

11-30-2005, 12:20 AM
I read about this (and only just now noticed your thread). Rosa Parks was awesome. She was the best kind of civil rights activist you could hope for. Peaceful, determined, brave, and in the right place at the right time.

I think she's not just a hero to Americans, but to all people who are still fighting descrimination today.