Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks dies at 92
Updated: 2005-10-25 11:13
Rosa Lee Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man sparked
the modern civil rights movement, died Monday. She was 92.
Mrs. Parks died at her home of natural causes, said Karen Morgan, a
spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. John Conyers.
Mrs. Parks was 42 when she committed an act of defiance in 1955 that was to
change the course of American history and earn her the title "mother of the
civil rights movement."
At that time, Jim Crow laws in place since the post-Civil War Reconstruction
required separation of the races in buses, restaurants and public accommodations
throughout the South, while legally sanctioned racial discrimination kept blacks
out of many jobs and neighborhoods in the North.
The Montgomery, Ala., seamstress, an active member of the local chapter of
the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was riding on a
city bus Dec. 1, 1955, when a white man demanded her seat.
Mrs. Parks refused, despite rules requiring blacks to yield their seats to
whites. Two black Montgomery women had been arrested earlier that year on the
same charge, but Mrs. Parks was jailed. She also was fined $14.
Speaking in 1992, she said history too often maintains "that my feet were
hurting and I didn't know why I refused to stand up when they told me. But the
real reason of my not standing up was I felt that I had a right to be treated as
any other passenger. We had endured that kind of treatment for too long."
Her arrest triggered a
381-day boycott of the bus system organized by a then little-known Baptist
minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who later earned the Nobel Peace
Prize for his work.
Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks holds the hand
of a well-wisher at a ceremony honoring the 46th anniversary of her arrest
for civil disobedience Saturday, Dec. 1, 2001, at the Henry Ford Museum in
Dearborn, Mich. [AP]
"At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this," Mrs.
Parks said 30 years later. "It was just a day like any other day. The only thing
that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in."
The Montgomery bus boycott, which came one year after the U.S. Supreme
Court's landmark declaration that separate schools for blacks and whites were
"inherently unequal," marked the start of the modern civil rights movement.
The movement culminated in the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act, which banned
racial discrimination in public accommodations.
After taking her public stand for civil rights, Mrs. Parks
had trouble finding work in Alabama. Amid threats and harassment, she and her
husband Raymond moved to Detroit in 1957. She worked as an aide in Conyers'
Detroit office from 1965 until retiring Sept. 30, 1988. Raymond Parks died in