1950's

Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement

By Lisa Martin

In Montgomery Alabama, on December 1st, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus to a white man.  An advocate for African American rights, Parks was jailed when the bus driver called the police.  In the end, Rosa was convicted of violating segregation laws and fined fourteen dollars including court costs.

This event outraged the African Americans in Montgomery.  They organized a boycott of the city buses.  What began as a one-day protest turned into a demonstration that lasted over a year.  Almost the entire African American population of the city supported it.  They created an organization called the Montgomery Improvement Association, which was led by Martin Luther King Jr.  The MIA helped people find other ways of getting around the city and encouraged people not to take the segregated city busses.

In November of 1956, the Supreme Court proclaimed the city’s segregation of busses unlawful and ordered the company to stop.  This Civil Rights victory inspired many similar acts and made Martin Luther King Jr. famous in the United States.

The success of the boycott was not without its negative side.  Rosa and her husband Raymond lost their jobs and had to move to Detroit to avoid harassment and violent threats.  Even in Detroit, things were still difficult, but this did not lower the significance of Rosa’s bravery and determination to defend Civil Rights.