Woman Making History #71: Rosa Parks


Rosa%20Parks.jpgRosa Parks may well be one of the most inaccurately remembered women in history. As everyone knows, she's famous for her refusal to give up her bus seat on December 1, 1955, beginning the Montgomery Bus Boycott. However, Parks was involved in Civil Rights far before that day.

Rosa Parks was born in Alabama in 1913. Her parents divorced soon after her birth and she was raised on a farm by her mother and maternal grandparents. She was forced to drop out of high school to care for her ill mother and grandmother.

In 1932, Parks married. Her husband, Raymond, was a member of the NAACP. After her marriage, Parks finished high school. When she graduated in 1933, less than 7% of Black Americans had high school diplomas.

In 1943, Parks joined the NAACP herself, soon becoming the secretary, a position she held until 1957. Her arrest in 1955 was not the first time she had a run-in with the segregated bus system in Montgomery, nor was she the first person to do so. Earlier, a young black woman named Claudine Colvin had been arrested for the same reason, but as she was not as "upstanding" a citizen as Parks, her case did not serve as a spark for the citywide bus boycott.

After her arrest, Parks lost her job, as did her husband. Parks then began traveling and speaking on behalf of Civil Rights. In 1957, she and her husband moved to Virginia, then to Michigan, in search of work. Parks worked as a seamstress until 1965, when she became secretary to U.S. Representative John Conyers. She remained in this position until her retirement in 1988.

In 1992, Parks published her autobiography, Rosa Parks: My Story. She died in 2005.

Academy of Achievement

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