A lady known as Rosa Parks made a monumental act of defiance by refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger. This happened on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama during the height of segregation. The bus driver asked Parks to give up her seat but she refused which led to her arrest for a violation of the local segregation ordinances. The racial segregation regulations required blacks to seat at the back of public buses and to give up their seats to white people if the ‘white section’ got full.
Parks who was a 42 year old seamstress and as well as a member of the NAACP branch in Montgomery stated that she had been pushed to her wits end and needed to know what her rights were as a human and citizen.
A few days after Parks was arrested, Martin Luther King, who was a young pastor at the time, set up an organization known as the Montgomery Improvement Association. The organization led a boycott of municipal buses which had a significant impact on the bus operations considering that majority of the bus passengers were blacks.
Many of the protesters including Martin Luther King Jr. were arrested and indicted for conspiring to obstruct business operations. However, the boycott persisted for over a year which severely hampered bus operations and almost led to a collapse of the bus company.
Rosa Parks’ public defiance had a positive impact on the civil rights movement and in November 1956 a Supreme Court ruling in the Browder v. Gayle case declared that it was unconstitutional for bus companies to uphold the segregation laws for their seating policy. On December of the same year the bus boycott was declared and from that time Rosa Parks has been hailed as one of the pioneers of the civil rights movement.
Rosa Parks refused to stand for a white passenger on December 1, 1955