Rosa and Malcolm:Changing History, Changing Lives

Rosa Parks' act of defiance triggered a bus
boycott that became a landmark in the civil rights
struggles of the 1950s and 1960s. Although her place
in history is firmly secured, the legendary Rosa Parks
continues to lead by example and deserves a special
On one dark December day in 1955, Mrs.
Parks’ only intent was to get home after a long day of
work as a seamstress. It was an “established rule” in
the American south (at that time) that
African-American riders had to sit at the back of the
bus. African-American riders were also expected to
surrender their seat to a white bus rider if it was
needed. When a white man got on the bus and the
driver ordered the black people in her row in the
“colored section” to move to the rear, she reflected on
the songs of freedom her mother sang to her, the
lessons gleaned from the Bible and her belief that
people should stand up for things that are right and
challenge those that are wrong. She gathered her
faith, her quiet strength and determination and
decided that it was time to make a stand. Her
subsequent arrest and boycott became a powerful
symbol of peaceful resistance for the civil rights
In court, Mrs. Parks was ordered to pay a
$10 fine plus $4 in court costs. But it would take the
ensuing bus boycott and court battles more than a
year to end, after the U.S. Supreme Court declared
bus segregation unconstitutional. Yet none of this
may have been possible if Mrs. Parks did not
epitomize how a passionate yet responsible individual
can use moral authority to succeed.
embodiment of the kind of character Martin Luther
King Jr. often espoused in his eloquent speeches. She
was never a fiery activist, although she and her
husband, Raymond, worked with youth groups for the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored
The “mother of the civil rights movement,”
is still uncomfortable with all the credit giv


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