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Parks, Rosa

Born: 1913 AD
Died: 2005 AD
Nationality: American
Categories: Activists, Civil Rights Leader


1913 – Rosa Louise McCauley was born on the 4th of February in Tuskegee, Alabama to James McCauley, a carpenter, and Leona McCauley, a teacher. 



1918- Rosa McCauley enters school in Pine Level.


1924- Rosa McCauley begins attending school in Montgomery.


1929- Rosa McCauley leaves school to care for grandmother


1932 – Rosa married Raymond Parks, a barber from Montgomery. Raymond was a member of the National

Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and was collecting money to support the Scottsboro Boys, a group of black men falsely accused of raping two white women.  Rosa took a number of jobs, ranging from domestic worker to hospital aide.


1933 – She finished her highschool studies at her husbands urging.  This was a time when less than 7% of African Americans had a high school diploma. She also succeeded in registering to vote on her third try.


1940 – Parks and her husband became members of the Voters’ League.  


1943 – Parks became active in the Civil Rights Movement.  She joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, and was elected volunteer secretary to its president, Edgar Nixon until 1957.


        – On a public bus, the driver, James Blake, demanded that she get off the bus and reenter through the back door. As she began to exit by the front door, she dropped her purse and sat down for a moment in a seat for white passengers, apparently to pick up her purse. The bus driver was enraged and barely let her step off the bus before speeding off.  Rosa walked more than five miles home in the rain.


1944 –  She held a brief job at Maxwell Air Force Base, a federally owned area where racial segregation was not allowed.  She also worked as a housekeeper and seamstress for a politically liberal white couple, Clifford and Virginia Durr.  


1955 – The Durrs became her friends, and they encouraged Parks to attend the Highlander Folk School, an education center for workers’ rights and racial equality in Monteagle, Tennessee.


         – Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus on the 1st of December in downtown Montgomery.  James Blake, the same driver who left her in the rain in 1943, ordered Rosa Parks and three other blacks to move from the middle to the back of his Cleveland Avenue bus in order to make room for a white passengers*.  The rest of Parks’ story is American history — her arrest and trial, a 381-day Montgomery bus boycott.  It marked one of the largest and most successful mass movements against racial segregation. It sparked many other protests, and it catapulted King to the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement.


1956 – The Supreme Court ruled in November that segregation on transportation is unconstitutional.


1977 – Rosa’s husband died of cancer.


1979 – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People awarded Parks the Spingarn Medal.


1980 – She received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award.


1983 – She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame for her achievements in Civil Rights.


1987 – Rosa Parks and Elaine Eason Steele co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development in February.


1992 – Parks published Rosa Parks: My Story, an autobiography aimed at younger readers which details her life leading up to her decision not to give up her seat.


1994 – Joseph Skipper, an African-American drug addict, attacked the then 81-year-old Parks in her home, demanded money and struck Parks in the face before fleeing.


1998 – She became the first recipient of the International Freedom Conductor Award given by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.


2004 – She was diagnosed with progressive dementia.


2005 – Parks died on the 24th of October.





* Under Jim Crow laws, black and white people were segregated in virtually every aspect of daily life in the South, including public transportation. Bus and train companies did not provide separate vehicles for the different races, but did enforce seating policies that allocated separate sections for blacks and whites.  In 1900, Montgomery had passed a city ordinance for the purpose of segregating passengers by race. Conductors were given the power to assign seats to accomplish that purpose; however, no passengers would be required to move or give up their seat and stand if the bus was crowded and no other seats were available. Over time and by custom, however, Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the practice of requiring black riders to move whenever there were no white only seats left.