Born in 1913, Rosa McCauley grew up in Pine Level, Alabama, the daughter of a Carpenter and a teacher. After elementary school, Rosa was sent to Montgomery for further education, and there she met Raymond Parks, a barber 10 years her senior. She was 19 years old she married Parks, the fist activist she had ever know.
Rosa Parks became an activist, too. In 1943 she joined the Montgomery branch of the NAACP and served as its unpaid secretary, keeping record on cases of discrimination, unfair treatment, and violence against blacks. She also advised the NAACP Youth Council. When she refused to give up her seat to white passenger on a Montgomery city bus on December 1, 1955, she was not tired from working all day as department store seamstress.
Plagued by death threats to herself and her family, and her family, and unable to find job, Parks left Montgomery soon after the boycott ended and moved with her husband and mother to Detroit. For several years afterward, she traveled around the country giving speeches and accepting honors for her part in sparking the Civil Rights Movement.
Parks lived quietly in Detroit, employed in her later working years in the office of Michigan Congressman John Conyers and caring for her mother, brother, and husband, all of whom died in the late 1970s. And in 1999 she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, personally presented by President Bill Clinton.
Parks: Tired of Giving In
People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.
The driver of the bus saw me still sitting there, and he asked was I going to stand up. I said” No.” He said, “Well, I’m going to have you arrested.” Then I said, “You may do that.” These were the only words we said to each other. I didn’t even know his name, which was James Blake, until we were in court together. He got out of the bus and stayed outside for a few minutes, waiting for the police.
As I sat there, I tried no think about what might happen. I knew that anything was possible. I could be manhandled or beaten. I could be arrested. People have asked me if occurred to me then that I could be the test case the NAACP had been looking for. I did not think about that at all. In fact if I had let myself think too deeply about what might happen to me, I might have gotten off the bus. But I chose to remain.
1. Civil Rights Chronicle- The African- American Struggle for Freedom.
2. She Would Not Be Moved.
3. Rosa Parks: My Story.
4. Ripples of Hope- Great American Civil Rights Speeches