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Black History Month Bio: Rosa Parks

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Rosa ParksEveryone in America, no matter how old or how young, knows the name Rosa Parks. They know about her due to the numerous pop culture references about her and the infamous bus incident. But not many people know the full or real story about miss Rosa Parks.

Rosa Parks was born on February 4, 1913 in Alabama. She was introduced to racial discrimination and segregation at a very early age. She was taught to read by her mother and would attend a segregated, one room school in Pine Level, Alabama. Black students were not only forced to walk to the first to sixth grade schoolhouse because they weren’t allowed to ride the bus, but they also lacked the necessary supplies for school like desks.

 

In 1929, when Rosa was in 11th grade her mother and her grandmother both fell ill causing her to drop out of school and nurse both women. She wouldn’t attend school for a long while; she found work at a shirt factory. At 19 she met Raymond Parks at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 1933, a year after meeting Raymond, Parks was influenced to continue school and eventually earned her High School Diploma. She would then become a secretary and youth leader for the NAACP.

 

According to the Montgomery City Code at the time, black passengers would have to give up their seat to white passengers and would have to sit in the rear of the bus. On the first of December 1955, Parks, after a long day at work where she worked as a seamstress, sat in the first several rows of the bus. When a white man boarded the bus and instructed Parks to give up her seat, she refused. She was arrested and held in jail until her hearing four days later. On the fifth of December, she was found guilty and fined $14 dollars.

 

On the day of her trial a bus boycott was held; persons of color refused to board the buses. Instead they were instructed to take the day off, take a cab or just simply walk. A group of black leaders met at the Mt. Zion Church to discuss the boycott movement. There they formed the Montgomery Improvement Association and gave a young Martin Luther King Junior as the minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The boycott that taken place was a huge success with many public buses remaining empty throughout the day and others not even moving. The boycott lasted for several months and nearly bankrupted the bus company.

 

This caused a Newton’s cradle of events. Many people of color were arrested for violating a law of boycotts and MLK Jr.’s home was bombed. Rosa Parks’ lawyer from her trial would eventually fight against the state of Alabama to fight the Jim Crow Laws. However, the city overruled the decision that Jim Crow Laws were unconstitutional. Yet, the Supreme Court upheld that decision.

 

Rosa Parks sparked a huge movement for the betterment of black citizens in America. If she would have to give her seat up, we would be living in a very different world. Parks would go on to receive awards including the Medal of Freedom given to her by Bill Clinton. Parks died on October 24, 2005 in her sleep due to her diagnosis of dementia the year before.

Jonathan Silva is a graduate and current student at Full Sail University going for his Master's Degree in Journalism. When he isn't writing for film blogs like Get The Big Picture or listening to music, he's either watching movies or playing video games. His love for all things entertainment shine through in his writing.