Rosa Parks, “Mother of Civil Rights Movement” – Mini Bio #blackhistorymonth

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Mini Bio of Rosa Parks, “Mother of Civil Rights Movement” #blackhistorymonth

Name: Rosa Parks
Birth Date: February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005
Job Functions: Civil Rights Activist
Fields: Human Rights Activism
Known For: Refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus

This month I am celebrating Black History Month by writing mini biographies of two black women and two black men. The format of the biographies may be different from the way that I usually do them. This week I am presenting Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery to a white man. Her act of defiance sparked a boycott of the bus line which lasted for 382 days. Rosa Parks’ action also helped to launch the civil rights movement in the United States.

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks in 1955, with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the background. Image credit via Wikipedia

The main reason that I am celebrating Black History Month on The Invisible Mentor, is to remind us, myself included, that any injustice to one, is an injustice to all, and it isn’t only about race discrimination – it’s about discrimination because of gender, sexual orientation, obesity, religion and culture and the list goes on and on.

Rosa Parks’ Steps to Success

  • While growing up, Rosa Parks’ brother and mother lived with her maternal grandparents. Her grandfather, Sylvester Edwards, the son of a plantation owner, attended a rally of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the black nationalist organization founded by Marcus Garvey. Unfortunately, the group wouldn’t accept Edwards as a member because he was too light-skinned.
  • Introduced to the civil rights movement in 1931 when she met Raymond Parks, her future husband. Raymond was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
  • Although she had completed high school, there weren’t many jobs for educated black women in Montgomery in the 1930s – she worked as housekeeper, an insurance agent, an office clerk, and eventually as a seamstress at Montgomery Fair.
  • In 1943, she joined the NAACP and later became its secretary, a position she held until 1956.
  • By city ordinance, the buses in Montgomery, Alabama were segregated – the first 10 seats on the Cleveland Avenue bus were reserved for whites and the remaining 26 were for blacks.
  • A seamstress at the Montgomery Fair department store, on her way home on Thursday, December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was sitting in the 11th row on the bus with two black women and a black man. Two blocks later, quite a few whites boarded the bus, filling the front seats, so the driver asked Rosa Parks and the other three blacks to give up their seats to one white man. Initially none of the four responded to the driver’s request, but when he insisted, all but Rosa Parks surrendered her seat. The bus driver called the police and Parks was arrested.

    The No. 2857 bus on which Parks was riding before her arrest . Image credit via Wikipedia
    The No. 2857 bus on which Parks was riding before her arrest . Image credit via Wikipedia
  • Under the leadership of Martin Luther King, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) organized a Montgomery bus boycott to end bus segregation which lasted 382 days – Rosa Parks’ arrest sparked the boycott. 

Related Post: Mini Biography of Martin Luther King Jr, Human Rights Activist

  • Blacks supported the boycott because the MIA created a network of taxis, private cars, and church station wagons to get people where they needed to go.
  • At a brief court hearing, a white judge fined Parks $10, plus $4 in court costs.
  • Montgomery refused to desegregate the buses until November 1956 when the Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision declaring segregation on Alabama’s city buses to be unconstitutional.
  • Parks lost her job, and along with dozens of other blacks, was indicted for violating an anti-boycott law, but the case never went to trial.
  • In 1957, to escape the constant harassment, Parks, her husband and mother moved to Detroit where her brother was living.
  • Worked in Detroit as a seamstress for eight years.
  • Attended the civil-rights rally which climaxed the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
  • In March 1965, participated in King’s march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery in support of black voting rights.
  • From 1965 to 1988, worked in the Detroit office of U.S. congressional representative John Conyers, a black Democrat.
  • In 1976, Detroit renamed 12th Street “Rosa Parks Boulevard.”
  • In the mid-1980s, supported the Free South Africa movement and walked the picket lines in Washington, D.C., with other anti-apartheid activists.
  • In 1987, 10 years after the death of her husband, Parks founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development to give career training for disadvantaged young people, and to address the dropout rate for black youth.
  • Wrote three books – an autobiography, Rosa Parks: My Story, published in 1992, Quiet Strength, published in 1994, and Dear Mrs. Parks a book of letters written to her from children around the world, published in 1996.
  • In 1999, TIME Magazine named Rosa Parks as one of the 20 most powerful and influential figures of the century.
  • In 2002, CBS television network released a made for television movie titled The Rosa Parks Story starring actress Angela Bassett.
  • In honor of Parks, Montgomery eventually renamed the street on which she rode home from work the Rosa Parks Boulevard. 

Biggest Accomplishments – Why Rosa Parks’ Contribution Matters

Rosa Parks’ contribution matters because she stood for courage and dignity. She stood up for what she believed in despite the price she had to pay. “When James F. Blake [white bus driver] told her, “I’m going to have you arrested,” Parks replied, “You may go on and do so.” As hurried and nervous passengers began to scramble off the bus, Blake called the police, and within minutes Rosa Parks was under arrest.”

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Author Bio: Avil Beckford, an expert interviewer, entrepreneur and published author is passionate about books and professional development, and that’s why she founded The Invisible Mentor and the Virtual Literary World Tour to give you your ideal mentors virtually in the palm of your hands by offering book reviews and book summaries, biographies of wise people and interviews of successful people.

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Sources Cited/Referenced 

Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia
Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History
Prejudice in the Modern World Reference Library
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture
Human and Civil Rights: Essential Primary Sources
Supreme Court Drama: Cases That Changed America