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Rosa Parks

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Interior: 2857 - Bus number Rosa rode on

Rosa Parks Hagiography

Rosa Louise Parks, “Mother of the Modern Day Civil Rights Movement,” is best known for her role in the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott. Parks triggered the boycott when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. Her action helped bring about the civil rights movement in the United States. Rosa Louise McCauley was born on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. She was the first child of James and Leona Edwards McCauley, a carpenter and teacher respectively. After her parents separated, she moved to a nearby rural community with her maternal grandparents and mother. For her secondary education, she attended a laboratory school set up by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes, but she was forced to drop out to care for her grandmother, and later for her ill mother. She received her high school diploma in 1934, after her marriage to Raymond Parks, a barber, in 1932. She held a variety of jobs and, in 1943, became one of the first women to join the Montgomery Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She served as the organization's secretary from 1943 to 1956. On the 1st of December, 1955, Rosa and three other people were sitting in the beginning seats of the black section of bus #2857. When more white people boarded, the driver demanded they get up. The others complied, but Parks refused to give up her seat. The driver called the police and had her arrested. This began a nationwide movement that launched the career of Martin Luther King Jr. and the 382-day long Montgomery bus boycott. On the 13th of November 1956, the Supreme Court passed an order that deemed racial segregation on buses unconstitutional. The order reached Montgomery on the 20th of December 1956 and the bus boycott ended the next day. The boycott’s success encouraged other mass protests demanding civil rights for blacks. Parks lost her job as a seamstress as a result of the Montgomery boycott. She moved to Detroit in 1957. From 1967 to 1988, she worked on the Detroit staff of John Conyers, Jr., a Democratic Congressman. In 1979, she won the Spingarn Medal for her work in civil rights. She wrote an autobiography, Rosa Parks: My Story, in 1992. Four years later, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1999, she was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal. Parks died in 2005, at the age of 92. Legislation was enacted later that year to add her likeness to Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. "She sat down in order that we all might stand up - and the walls of segregation came down," said civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.