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Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks mugshot

The arrest of Rosa Parks:

She's a heroine of the American civil rights movement. Born Rosa Louise McCauley and raised in Tuskegee, Alabama. Rosa Parks wasn't the first person to protest bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama. Clearly, she is the best known.

She became active in the NAACP in 1943 and was elected Secretary of the Montgomery Chapter, continuing in that role until 1957.

Her arrest occurred on a December day in 1955, when she simply refused a Montgomery bus driver's order to give up her seat in the colored section of a city bus to a white passenger, after the white section filled up.

Rosa Parks on a bus

Parks was charged with violating the segregation law of the Montgomery City Code.

Rosa Parks getting finger printed

The next day, she was tried on disorderly conduct charges and of violating a local ordinance, and was fined ten dollars, plus another four dollars in court costs. She filed an appeal, formally challenging the legality of racial segregation.

Three days later, plans for the Montgomery Bus Boycott were announced…

Rosa Parks

…in which another Civil Rights icon, Dr. Martin Luther King, participated.

It was a watershed moment in blacks' struggle for equality. Dozens of Montgomery buses were idled for months, damaging the transit company's finances. Finally, the city repealed its law requiring segregated buses after the US Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional in a separate case, Browder vs. Gayle.

Nevertheless, Rosa Parks suffered economically as she lost her department store job and her husband Raymond quit his. She did travel and spoke of her experience and she and her husband eventually settled in Detroit where she worked as a seamstress until 1965.

She's an icon in the civil rights movement,

Rosa Parks

When she died of natural causes at age 92 on October 24, 2005…

Rosa Parks funeral

…she was honored in Montgomery, with the front seats of city buses reserved with black ribbons until her funeral.

Her casket was also transported to Washington D.C., lying in honor in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

Rosa Parks casket in Washington D.C.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking at her memorial service, said if it wasn't for Rosa Parks, she would probably never have become the country's top diplomat.

A movie of Rosa Parks' life was made, starring Angela Bassett.

Finally...December first and her February fourth birthdate are commemorated as Rosa Parks' days in California and Ohio.

Famous Arrests