By Enrique Tessieri
Of the many Civil Rights Movement icons that emerged during the 1950s, the late Rosa Parks is one of my biggest heroes. With her humble example on a December first afternoon of 1955, Parks changed US history by refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama.
Back then, black passengers were obliged to sit in the back of municipal buses. If the bus was full they were required to give up their seat to a white passenger.
Parks refused and was arrested.
Rosa Parks. Source US Information Center.
Four women and a man had taken similar steps as Parks but none of them had sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott that took place on her trial on December 5. She was found guilty by the court and fined $14.
The bus strike that Parks sparked lasted for 381 days and was led by a 26-year-old Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. In a groundbreaking 9-0 decision in 1956, the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation on municipal buses was illegal.
Parks’ civil disobedience became an important symbol of the Civil Rights Movement. She became famous internationally as an icon of peaceful resistance against racial segregation.
This brave woman, who died in 2005 at the age of 95, proved that people can change the course of history with their humble example. No weapon, police brutality, state terrorism or racism are a match for a woman like Parks.
If she was able to challenge with a simple refusal to relinquish her seat on a bus fifty-six years ago, imagine what we can do today with our examples.
Here is an interesting clip about Parks’ life.