This day 57 years ago, the course of history was to turn. On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to obey the bus driver’s order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. She was arrested and charged with violation of segregation laws.
She later said, “I only knew that, as I was being arrested, that it was the very last time that I would ever ride in humiliation of this kind…”
Her stand for equal rights became legendary.
In her autobiography, ‘My Story‘ Parks said:
“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.”
In an interview, she recalled:
“I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time… there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. 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.”
The US Congress honoured Parks for dedicating her life to the cause of universal human rights, embodying the love of humanity and freedom. According to Congress, her quiet courage symbolising all that is vital about non-violent protest.
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005), an iconic freedom leader, known as the “first lady of civil rights.”