An act of civil disobedience 55 years ago — Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of a city bus — made the seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, a pivotal symbol in America’s civil rights movement.
Wednesday marks the 55th anniversary of the civil disobedience on December 1, 1955.
Parks did not intend to get arrested as she made her way home from work that day. Little did the 42-year-old seamstress know that her acts would help end segregation laws in the South.
That evening after work, Parks took a seat in the front of the black section of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The bus filled up, and the bus driver demanded that she move so a white male passenger could have her seat.
But Parks refused to give up her seat, and police arrested her. Four days later, Parks was convicted of disorderly conduct.
The events 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.
Parks, who died five years ago in Detroit, Michigan, at 92, still has the power to inspire.
“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,” U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, said shortly after her death. “She was a real apostle of the nonviolence movement.”