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Rosa Parks Day 2021 And The Making of History

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In this file photo, from left, Mary Louise Smith, Gov. Kay Ivey, Civil Rights Attorney Fred Gray and Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed pose after the unveiling of the Rosa Parks statue in downtown Montgomery, Ala., Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, the anniversary of her arrest for not giving up her seat on a city bus. (Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
By Haley Wilson
The Birmingham Times

Wednesday marked the 66th anniversary of the arrest of Rosa Parks. On December 1, 1955, Mrs. Parks took stand against racial discrimination, refusing to give up her seat on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her refusal sparked a year-long, city-wide boycott of the Montgomery bus system, leading to the eventual desegregation of public buses by the Supreme Court.

The History

After a long day at work, Rosa Parks boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She took her seat in the ‘colored’ section. As she rode the Cleveland Avenue bus home, the bus began to fill.

The Montgomery city ordinance allowed bus drivers to assign seating. However, it did not permit them to demand passengers give up their seats. Despite this, bus drivers customarily required Black passengers to give up their seats to white passengers when public transportation became full.

When the bus driver asked Mrs. Parks to give up her seat, she refused. Police arrested her, and what followed is Civil Rights history. On Dec. 5, 1955, the courts found Mrs. Parks guilty of violating the city ordinance and fined her $10 plus a court fee.

African American leaders, including E.D. Nixon and Martin Luther King, Jr. organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott for the date of Mrs. Park’s trial. The boycott succeeded and lasted several months, devastating the transportation system in Montgomery.

How Others Observe Rosa Parks Day

– U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) spoke on the House floor on Wednesday to observe the 66th anniversary of the arrest of Rosa Parks. Rep. Sewell is an original cosponsor of the Rosa Parks Day Act, a bill that would make December 1st a federal holiday in her honor. 

A video recording of Rep. Sewell’s remarks can be viewed and downloaded here

– Alabama State University in Montgomery hosts a virtual celebration “The Browder vs. Gayle Montgomery Bus Boycott Plaintiffs: Their Story” and Virtual Art Exhibition.

How You Can Observe

Learn more about Mrs. Parks and her role in the Civil Rights movement at The Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery. Several books and films offer insight to this day in history and the Civil Rights movement to follow: