Rosa Louise McCauley Parks did not intend to change the course of history when stepped on the No. 2857 bus after a long day at work, on December 1, 1955. But that is exactly what the woman many call ‘the first lady of the civil rights movement’ did with her refusal to give her seat up to a white man.
Her subsequent arrest and the boycott that ensued was a pivotal springboard in America’s civil rights movement and led to a United States Supreme Court decision that declared the Alabama and Montgomery laws requiring segregated buses to be unconstitutional.
Today (December 1) marks the 55th Anniversary of the event that sparked it all.
“I think that she, as the mother of the new civil rights movement, has left an impact not just on the nation, but on the world,” U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, once said about Parks. “She was a real apostle of the nonviolence movement.”
Parks later received a bounty of honors and awards for her pioneering efforts in the civil rights movement including the Congressional Gold Medal, the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP and the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by former president Bill Clinton.
In 1999, Time magazine named Parks one of the 20 most influential and iconic figures of the twentieth century.
Rosa Parks died of natural causes at the age of 92 on October 24, 2005 but her legacy lives on.