Thursday, 28 February 2013


I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people. - Rosa Parks

If Rosa Parks, the Mother of Civil Rights Movement, were alive, it would have been her 100th birthday on February 4th. She died in 2005 aged 92.  To commemorate her 100th birthday, the U.S. Postal Service issued a postal stamp in her honor. In 1999 she was the recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal. On Wednesday 27 Feburary 2013, a 2700 pound bronze statue of Rosa Parks was unveiled by U.S. President Barack Obama at Capitol Statuary Hall, Washington D.C. to honor her memory. President Obama stated that Parks statue was an enduring reminder of what true leadership requires, "no matter how humble or lofty our positions."

Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955 for refusing to give up her seat  to a white passenger in the bus she was travelling in Alabama. According to the city ordinance passed in Alabama, Montgomery, the bus drivers were allowed to segregate passengers by race. The black citizens were to sit or stand at the back portion of the buses they would travel. When the bus driver asked her why she did not get up and move and she told him that she did not feel that she should have to. The bus driver called the police, who then arrested Rosa.

In her autobiography Rosa Parks stated :
"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 no 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. I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move. Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it."

In an interview Rosa Parks gave at the National Public Radio in 1992, she said, "I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. But when I had to face that decision, I didn't hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became." 

Her arrest led to Montgomery Bus boycott by 17,000 black citizens for 381 days. The boycott was led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., that sparked the struggle for racial equality in the form of civil rights movement. The boycott came to an end when the U.S. Supreme Court found segregation in the bus unconstitutional. In the years that followed African Americans continued their fights for equal rights and finally, in 1964, the Civil Rights Act  was passed.

Rosa Parks received the Congressional Award in 1999

Rosa Parks commemorative stamp by U.S. Postal Services 

Unveiling of Rosa Parks Statue on Wednesday 27 Feburary 2013 at Capitol, Washington D.C. 

No comments: