Rosa Parks Biography / Autobiography / Memoir resources

Full Name: Mrs. Rosa Louise McCauley Parks
Date of Birth: February 4, 1913
Place of Birth: Tuskegee, Alabama, USA
Died: October 24, 2005
Place of Death: Detroit, Michigan, USA
Classification: Heroes & Icons

BiographyShelf - Rosa Parks

Short Biography of Rosa Parks

Even after suffering bouts of poor health as a child, Rosa Parks lived a long and fulfilling life. She is one of America’s most iconic symbols of freedom and equal civil rights. Dubbed the “Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement,” her fame grew publicly when she was arrested on December 1, 1955 for refusing to move from a bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama.

As the driver, Mr. James Blake, moved a ‘colored section’ sign farther back in the bus to make room for additional white passengers, Rosa Parks refused to move toward the back of the bus, but instead slid over towards the window. Following, the bus driver called the police and had her arrested. With the backing of the NAACP and legal counsel, the Montgomery Bus Boycott that lasted well beyond a year was initiated. It became and still remains one of the grandest public displays against racial segregation in U.S. history.

At age eleven, Rosa stopped her home schooling with her mother Leona McCauley, a teacher at the time, and attended the Industrial School for Girls. Following, she attended secondary school but had to drop out because she had to take care of her sick grandmother and eventually her own mother.

In 1932, at the age of 19, she wed Mr. Raymond Parks who was also a physical rights activist alongside the NAACP. Ten years after finishing her high school degree in 1943, Parks became the secretary for the NAACP where she worked until 1957. In her autobiography entitled My Story, Parks revealed that she had always resisted mistreatment in many instances, but her arrest triggered the profound reaction and boycott.      

While some segregationists turned to violence, the African-American community of Montgomery held strongly together as the nation and even the world watched. In November of 1956, the United States Supreme Court outlawed further segregation on buses. Following, Parks moved to Virginia and found a job working at an inn. Eventually, her and her husband moved to Detroit, Michigan to be near Rosa’s family. In 1965, U.S. Representative John Conyers hired Parks until 1988. In 1995, she published another autobiography titled Quiet Strength that discussed how her faith kept her strong.

In her lifetime, Parks won numerous prestigious awards. This included the Congressional Gold Medal, the Alabama Academy of Honor and the Governor’s Medal of Honor. In 1996, Bill Clinton presented Parks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And, she even had a prize named after her called the Rosa Parks Peace Prize in Stockholm, Sweden.

Rosa Parks’ case wasn’t just a deciding factor for the removal of segregation on public buses, but an everlasting spark that helped the Civil Rights Movement burn even brighter.

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