Rosa Parks is one of the most influential figures of the 20th century, thanks to her contribution to the civil rights movement in the U.S. She started as an activist in the 1930’s, and until she died in 2005, Parks left unforgettable deeds in her lifetime.
There are many big and small things that Park did that all found their way into making things happen – the African – American people getting their civil rights. Read below to find out more about how Rosa Parks contributed!
1. One of the Most Influential Figures of 20th Century
Rosa Parks was part of many protests and demonstrations and offered her help organizing and defending African – Americans when they were falsely accused of something they did. Like all African – Americans, she shared Martin Luter King’s dream – that one day they will all be equal, and it did happen. Together they won one of the most important battles in the 20th century.
2. Mother of Civil Rights Movement
Rosa Parks started as an activist in the 1930’s and her persistence for freedom and equality, and her civil leadership made her an international icon of the American civil rights movement. She received many awards and honors for her contribution, so it’s no wonder why the U.S. Congress called her “the first lady of civil rights.”
3. Her Refusal Led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott
In 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, there was still the law that said African – Americans can sit at the back of the bus, while the white people can sit in the front, and in case the bus is full, an African – American is obligated to give up their seat to a white person standing. On December 1st, Parks refused to give up her seat, and she was arrested. This lead to the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott that is considered to be the first biggest demonstration against segregation in the U.S.
4. She was Secretary in Montgomery division of NAACP
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) used to be the leading African-American civil rights organization in the U.S. Rosa Parks joined the Montgomery Division in 1943 and soon was elected to be the secretary of the NAACP leader Edgar Nixon. Parks worked for the organization for 14 years, from 1943 until 1957.
5. She Helped Defending the Scottsboro Boys
In 1931, nine African – American teenagers were accused of raping two White American women. All nine denied it, and the medical evidence also pointed out that they didn’t commit the crime. Rosa Parks was trying hard to raise money for the defense, but in the end, seven of the nine Scottsboro Boys were sent to prison. The Scottsboro Boys case is one of the most known cases of that time, where injustice was brought to African – Americans just because of their race and color.
6. She Sought Justice for Recy Taylor
Recy Taylor was a young African – American who was gang-raped by six white men in 1944. Rosa Parks used her NAACP position to spread the truth about Recy’s case and created the Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor. With the local chapters’ help, she achieved national support, and the men admitted to raping Racy. However, even though they told the truth, the judges still declined to charge them for doing crime.
7. She’s Co-Founder of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development
Together with Elaine Eason Steele, Rosa Parks founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development in 1987. The institute aims for youth development, but it also has programs that offer civil rights education and teach the youth about the struggles that African-Americans had, starting from the underground railroad to the civil rights movement.
8. She was Inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame
Due to her civil rights contribution and achievement, Rosa Parks was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1983. A decade before that, Parks joined the Detroit branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), which was a step toward expanding her activism from just civil rights to including women’s equality.
9. She Wrote Two Books
During her activism days, Rosa Parks encountered many social problems that included social injustice, economic inequality, and police brutality. After her retirement, Rosa Parks gathered all the experience of fighting for civil rights and women’s equality and wrote two books. The first one was published in 1992 and is an autobiography known as Rosa Parks: My Story and focuses on her activism, and the second book, Quiet Strength, was published in 1995.
10. She was Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
During her lifetime, Rosa Parks received many important awards and honors for her achievement. Two of these are the USA’s highest civilian awards – these are the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. She received them both in 1999 and were given to her by President Bill Clinton. Other important awards that Parks received are the Spingarn Medal awarded by the NAACP in 1979 and the International Freedom Conductor Award in 1999.