Rosa Parks

By: Lisa Breininger

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

“There are very few people who can say their actions and conduct changed the face of the nation, and Rosa Parks is one of those individuals.”

February 4th 2013 would have marked
Rosa Parks 100 Birthday!

Rosa McCauley (Rosa Parks) was born in 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama, to her parents James and Leona McCauley. They were both farmers who also held other jobs. Her mother was a teacher, while her father was a carpenter. James and Leona separated when Rosa was a young girl. That is when her mother raised her and her brother on her grandparent’s farm.

For five months of the year, Rosa attended a black’s-only, one-room schoolhouse. The rest of the year was focused around working out in the fields. She later learned how to type and sew.

Rosa attended Miss White’s School for Girls and Montgomery Industrial School for girls both in Montgomery. At the age of 16, Rosa left school in Alabama to take care of her grandmother.

A man named Raymond Parks, a barber, came into Rosa’s picture when she was 19, (1932) and she later married him. Since Raymond was active in the Civil Rights movement, Rosa herself became politically active. She was a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and served as the secretary of the chapter in Montgomery, Alabama. (Gale Biography in Context)

[NOTE: Due to our licensing agreement, access to Gale Biography in Context is restricted to the students, staff, and faculty at Kutztown University.]

In December, Rosa Parks made her most remembered act when she refused to give up her seat on the bus. All public transportation in Montgomery City required the bus driver to provide seating that was both separate but equal to both white and black passengers. As an African American got on the front of the bus to pay their toll, they sat in the designated space and eventually had to leave  through the back. When more white passengers would step on the bus, the bus driver moved the sign that separated the whites and the blacks. When Rosa refused to move and give up her seat to a white man, the driver called the police and had her arrested and fined $14.

That same day, E.D. Nixon formed plans to boycott the Montgomery’s buses. They placed ads in local papers, and handbills were printed which then were distributed to black neighbors. After that day, Rosa’s life was affected by the aftermath of what happened. She lost her job in a department store, was hassled by many people who had supported her by boycotting the bus, and even received threats. John Conyers, a Detroit Congressman in 1965 hired Rosa to be his aide. With this she pushed for a greater racial equality and raised funds for the NAACP.

Rosa founded an organization that introduces young people to the important civil rights and underground railroad events. This organization was called the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development. They also run bus tours called “Pathways to Freedom.”( Gale Biography in Context)

Rosa started suffering from dementia in 2002 and started to face difficulties in financial problems. She had to look for help through a local church to cover her rent; this did not change her importance in history. She passed away at the age of 92 in October 2005. Her husband had passed in 1977, and they never had children or any survivors.

She was another strong woman in history.
Books Rosa Parks has written:

  • Rosa Parks: My Story
  • The Strength by Rosa Parks
  • Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue with Today’s Youth by Rosa Parks
  • I AM ROSA PARKS

Also visit Bio:True Story and Gale Biography in Context

Photograph from Bio: True Story

To find out more about Rosa Parks please visit the Rohrbach Library for books about her or click here to browse some of the titles.  One item, I am Rosa Parks/ by Rosa Parks with Jim Haskins, is located in the Library Science Collection on the ground floor.

If you need assistance locating materials, ask a librarian at the Research Help Desk.

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