On December 1st, 1955, Rosa Parks changed the course of human history and made an indelible mark on the course of civil rights in the south, and our nation. On her way home from work in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa sat in the front of the black section on her normal bus ride. When the bus filled up, and the driver ordered her to move so that a young white man could sit in her seat, she refused. She was arrested, and convicted of disorderly conduct four days later.
Learning of her actions and subsequent conviction, a 26-year-old Baptist minister helped organize a boycott of the bus system that would last for 381 days. This young minister, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., through his efforts motivated by Rosa Parks and her refusal to move, helped facilitate a court ruling for the desegregation of public transportation in Montgomery. Some years later, in 1964, as part of the Civil Rights Act, all public accommodations nationwide were desegregated. Though many could speculate that this may have taken place even if Rosa Parks had given up her seat, this seamstress from Montgomery helped change the world, and the way we view each other as human beings.
Rosa Parks lost her job as a result of her activism, and moved to Detroit in 1957. She lectured to civil rights groups and gave speeches well into her 80s. In 1996 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 1996 the Congressional Gold Medal. Rosa parks died in 2005, at the age of 92, but her inspiration lives on as one of the people that changed the history of this great nation.
Many of us are young enough to have never experienced the blatant racial inequality that we read about and see in the history of our nation, things are more subtle now. But we can still remember Rosa Parks, her seat on the bus, and the positive impact she made.