The Role Of Rosa Parks In African American Civil Rights Movement

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Imagine sitting on the end of bus staring out the window. Watching the black and white children, walking five feet apart from each other. Instead of holding hands and playing together, they were all blinded by the hate and judgment. Then suddenly you hear, “get up.” You look up to see the white man telling you to stand up. The animosity and outrage within you forces out the words, “no”. This spontaneous action was presented by the outstanding Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks is an African American Civil Rights activist who grew up in Tuskegee, Alabama where segregation permeated through the nation.

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At a young age, she encountered the wrath of inequality and judgment as she attended a small segregated school with no essential resources. This difficult experience incorporated in Parks’ life as she soon became one of the most important figures in the world. Through her strive against unethical racial injustices, Rosa Parks made a positive impact on the future of racism by gaining her passion for activism at a young age, by committing to a brave act of defiance, and by influencing other activists to speak up for their rights.

Rosa Parks’ determination to fight for African Americans was primarily ignited at a young age due to unfair racial segregation which had influenced a lifelong commitment to activism. As a young child, Parks experienced segregation in her school life where African Americans lacked the advantage of high level education. According to the article, “Rosa Parks”, it states “… attended a segregated, one-room school that lacked adequate school supplies such as desks. African-American students were forced to walk to the 1st- through 6th-grade schoolhouse, while the city of Pine Level provided bus transportation as well as a new school building for white students” (“Rosa Parks”). Because of her skin color, Rosa Parks failed to receive the minimal amount of education and essential resources needed to be successful in the future. The white students, however, had the privilege of gaining many opportunities to achieve their desires even if they lacked the ability to do so. These notions are mainly influenced from the Jim Crow Laws which are statues and ordinances created to separate the white and black people in the South (“Jim Crow Laws and Racial Segregation”). These laws increased racial segregation around the world as they strictly prohibited African Americans to share public areas (schools, restrooms, etc.) with whites. This concept clearly demonstrates how Parks was not given any valuable opportunities to receive a high quality education due to the restriction of her race. Another factor that inspired Rosa Parks’ defiance against segregation laws include her strong roots of activism for freedom and equality. Parks had joined the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in 1943 to support her passionate values against discrimination. The periodical, “Recy Taylor, Who Fought for Justice After a 1944 Rape, Dies at 97 ”, written by The New York Times, states “As word of the crime spread through Alabama’s black community, the N.A.A.C.P.’s Montgomery chapter sent Mrs. Parks, who had spent much of her childhood in Abbeville, Ala., to interview Mrs. Taylor.” (Sewell). The evidence given portrays how Parks worked at the NAACP as a private sexual assault investigator, documenting cases of sexual violence primarily aimed upon African American women. In this case, she was dispatched to investigate and interview the brutal rape of twenty-five year old Recy Taylor. Her dedication towards this group has profoundly increased her impenetrable fight for justice.

Rosa Parks’ impact on the African American community primarily arose due to her spontaneous action on December 1st, 1955. Based on the article, “Social Justice Activists Rosa Parks”, it states,“On this day, Rosa Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus and sat in an empty seat in the section reserved for blacks in the back of the bus. The bus driver ordered all the passengers to leave but Rosa refused. She was then charged $4 with a violation of Chapter 6, Section 2 segregation law of the Montgomery city code (“Social Justice Activists Rosa Parks”). This excerpt thoroughly explains how Rosa Parks undeniably refused to surrender her seat to a white man. She remained in a sedentary position because she believed in standing up for her rights, as well as the nations’.

Even though Parks sat in the “black” section of the bus, the driver forced her to get up in order to accommodate the seat for the white man. This explains how the Jim Crow Laws are flexible and satisfactory only towards the white Americans. Rosa Parks was not incapable of giving up her seat, but rather outraged over the civil injustice in the South. According to the book Quiet Strength: The Faith, the Hope, and the Heart of a Woman Who Changed a Nation, written by Gregory J. Reed, states “I did not think of being physically tired or fearful…All I felt was tired. Tired of being pushed around. Tired of seeing bad treatment and disrespect of children, women, and men just because of their skin.” (Reed 17). The evidence given depicts how Rosa has confronted many years of oppression and eventually became a victim of mistreatment solely based on the color of her skin. She was not tiresome because of her long day at work, but rather debilitated due the large buildup of anger and passion towards racism. She then progressed to use the resentment and spirit as a driving force to guide the nation in perceiving the concept of equal rights.

Parks’ simple but brave act of defiance instigated the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the future of Martin Luther Jr. as a non-violent civil rights activist. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a thirteen month non-violent mass protest that prosperously challenged racial segregation in America. During the event, many African Americans chose not to use public transportation in order to support the boycott. Based on the book Quiet Strength: Faith, the Hope, and the Heart of a Woman Who Changed a Nation, the author states “For 381 days, blacks either walked or arranged their own rides throughout the city rather than taking the bus” (Reed 13). This evidence demonstrates how African Americans willingly dedicated their whole life in changing their daily transportation from riding the bus to walking/driving by themselves. They decided to pursue their entire future primarily for the benefit of expanding the powerful boycott.

The African Americans were deeply inspired by Rosa Parks as they learned how to ignore the cruel judgement and fight against the racial injustices illustrated throughout the event. Rosa Parks not only influenced African Americans as a nation, but also other activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an African American Baptist Minister who led the Montgomery Bus Boycott in a non-violent manner. According to the article, “Montgomery Bus Boycott”, the author states “King spoke to several thousand at the meeting: “I want to be known that we’re going to work with grim and bold determination to gain justice on the buses in this city. And we are not wrong…If we are wrong, the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong…” (“Montgomery Bus Boycott”). King was a pure inspirational leader as he led the boycott with strong motivational speeches and interviews filled with passion and pride to drive the nation with full hope in gaining equality. As a young adult, he promised to fulfill the nation’s goals and never give up in any situation which portrays his perseverance and determination towards the Montgomery Bus Boycott. His courageous character was deeply influenced by the unpremeditated act of defiance of Rosa Parks.

Rosa Parks also known as the “Mother of Civil Rights” is an iconic figure in history as she helped demolish the immoral segregation laws by influencing the creation of the Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Martin Luther King Jr. She also impacted the African American community by giving hope to those who are suffering in a world filled with prejudice. By gaining her passion for activism at a young age, by committing to a brave act of defiance, and by influencing other activists to speak up for their rights, Rosa Parks has made a positive impact on the future of racism because of her strive against unethical racial injustices. Now, when one glares out the window of a bus, they will see white and black children linking hands and playing together, without a single thought about each other’s skin color. This all became possible due to the influential Rosa Parks who changed the view of equality in the world.

07 September 2020

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