Rosa Parks & The Montgomery Bus Boycott

Let me pose a question for you was there ever a time you fell that you were persecuted in any way shape or form. Did you ever feel any type injustice in any social matter? I can remember time where I was vilified during a social in justice situation. I was 11 years old I was going on a cross country trip from New York to Florida with my mother and father. There’re many rest stops along the way whether to use the restroom or stop at restaurant to or diner to eat. One day we stopped at a local restaurant in a small town in South Carolina.

During this time, I remember my father picking a seat at the table somewhere close to the middle of the diner and we sat there. We sat their god knows who how long, until we got the picture and notice nobody what’s going to serve us. I still don’t know to this day why we weren’t served or welcome, but you felt it in the air that are presents wasn’t welcome being from a Hispanic background and noticing individuals of Caucasian descent for around us dear didn’t really set off any red flags at first. But looking back on this incident you quickly realize that it’s not only African-Americans that get discriminate but also minorities.

During the civil rights movement in the 1960’s there were numerous of influential people who helped shape our country into what it is today. Rosa Parks, whose name is often associated with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, made a large impact on the civil rights movement which goes beyond her most remembered decision of refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. Born to a school teacher and carpenter on February 1, 1913, Rosa McCauley was born into segregation. Soon after her parents split, McCauley moved from Tuskegee, Alabama to Pine Level, Alabama with her mother. At a very young age McCauley learned that she was growing up in a society where she was treated differently than others because of the color of her skin.

“In one experience, Rosa's grandfather stood in front of their house with a shotgun while Ku Klux Klan members marched down the street” (Editors, 2018). Parks was taught how to read at an early age by her mother and eventually attended a small, rundown, segregated school. This one room school lacked adequate school supplies and the students were forced to walk to school because the city did not run school buses to the African American schools. Parks attended school until the eleventh grade and dropped out to take care of both her sick mother and grandmother. So why am I telling you this.

On Thursday, December 1, 1955, Parks finished her work at the Montgomery Fair department store, boarded a city bus, and sat with three other blacks in the fifth row, the first row that blacks were allowed to occupy. A few stops later, the front four rows were filled with whites. One white man was left standing. According to law, blacks and whites could not occupy the same row, so the bus driver asked all four of the blacks seated in the fifth row to move. Three acquiesced, but Parks refused. The driver called the police and had Parks arrested. People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true,” Parks later explained. She stated, I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.

According to the Montgomery City Code, “all public transportation be segregated and bus drivers had the powers of a police officer of the city while in actual charge of any bus for the purposes of carrying out the provisions’ of the code for white and black riders by assigning seats (Editors 2018). These assigned seats were usually determined by a line in the middle of the bus with white passengers in the front and African American passengers in the back of the bus. If the white section of the bus was full, white passengers could sit in the front of the black section and the black passengers were required to stand.

Are you starting to feel something crawling up your skin hey my painting hey vivid picture? The fact that people back then can be so inhumane for your fellow brothers and sisters the fact that the color of your skin what is more important than who you are as a person. That my friends is what cross under my skin. Rosa Parks has been portrayed to be a quiet but courageous woman, however, she had a history of being defiant and fierce. She wrote a book where she mentioned a near rape experience she had with a white man while she was working for a white family. She did not consent and no matter what happened the only way he would have done that was over her dead body.

Rosa Parks throughout her life had learned to have resistance to the white supremacy, which she learned from her grandfather. She was raised to not take bad treatment from anybody. During the 1930’s she joined the NAACP where she researched rape cases of African American women named Recy Taylor. She organized the Committee of Equal Justice. In later years Parks became the secretary for the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and still was a very active member. Parks was arrested and convicted of violating the Jim Crow laws, or the laws of segregation.

On the same day as Parks’ trial, December 5, 1955, the Montgomery Bus Boycott began. The majority of the African American population refused to use the Montgomery Bus system until the laws of segregation were changed on public transportation. The protest was nonviolent and since the African American population accounted for 75 percent of Montgomery’s population, the public transportation systems suffered greatly. The boycott lasted 381 days, and in December 1956 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled with a 9:0 vote, that “the segregation law was unconstitutional, and the Montgomery buses were integrated” (The Henry Ford, 2002).

The Montgomery Bus Boycott, which started with Rosa Park’s simple decision, was the beginning of a revolutionary era of nonviolent protests in support of equal rights in the United States. After the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the fight for civil rights still carried on for many years. On July 2, 1964 after many years of protest and civil rights movements, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed, which “banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The movement had finally paid off and blacks were granted all the same freedoms as whites. There still was some tension in the south with the whites who did not agree with the law, but the African Americans had lawfully earned civil rights.

Rosa Parks had no intention of starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott when she refused to give up her seat, but her actions changed the course of the nation. Parks went on to do many more things with the NAACP. She received numerous prestigious awards including the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1999 and was even named one of the 20 Most Influential People by Time Magazine, and the list goes on and on. Rosa Parks’ legacy still lives on today and goes beyond her refusal to give up her seat.

Works Cited:

  1. Ford, Henry. The Story Behind the Bus. Henry Ford.Org. (2018)
  2. Editors. “Rosa Parks.” Rosa Parks (2018):
  3. Graff, Gerald, Birkenstein, Cathy, Durst, Russel. They say I say. Norton & Company. (pages-1-52)
  4. Dreier, Peter. “Rosa Parks: Angry, Not tired”. Dissent Winter 2006
18 May 2020
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