Facts, information and articles about Rosa Parks, a prominent figure in Black History

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Rosa Parks summary: Rosa Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama on February 4th, 1913. After her parent’s divorce, her mother moved Rosa and her siblings to Pine Level, Alabama, where Rosa’s maternal grandparents resided. Both of her grandparents were former slaves, and while growing up on their farm, Rosa was strongly influenced by their advocating of equal rights.

Rosa attended segregated schools throughout her childhood, which meant a long daily walk to the African American school house she attended, while the white students in her community rode a bus to a large, new building. She attended a secondary school as well, but had to leave when in the 11th grade to take care of her ailing mother and grandmother. She did not return to school, opting instead to get a factory job in Montgomery to help support her family. At the age of 19, she married a barber named Raymond Parks. Parks was a member of the NAACP, and he helped Rosa earn her high school diploma.

Rosa became active in the civil rights movement along with her husband. She served as a youth leader for the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, and she worked as a secretary to E.D. Nixon, president of the NAACP through 1957. Under Montgomery city code, bus drivers were to segregate black and white passengers on the bus, and they were given strict authority to enforce the code. If the bus became too full, the passengers in the back half of the bus, the blacks, could be ordered to give up their seats to accommodate white passengers. If they refused, the bus driver had the authority to call the police to enforce removal of the black passenger from the bus.

On the first of December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks left work for the day; she worked as a seamstress in a department store. As she rode the bus home, the bus filled and soon the white half of the bus was full, leaving white passengers standing. The bus driver stopped the bus and told the first row of black passengers to get up; the other three passengers in Rosa’s row did so, but Rosa refused. Rosa was arrested for her refusal to give up her seat. Following her arrest, the NAACP organized a bus boycott in support of Rosa and racial equality.

The fingerprint card of Rosa Parks was produced in association with her arrest for refusing to obey orders of a bus driver on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Records of District Courts of the United States/National Archives)