Rosa Parks’ Legacy

Sixty-four years ago, on December 1, 1955, a 42-year-old woman named Rosa Parks took a seat on a bus en route home from a department store where she worked as a seamstress. Ms. Parks defied a directive from the bus driver to vacate her seat so that white passengers boarding the bus could sit; her refusal and subsequent arrest (for violating a city law requiring racial segregation on public buses) spawned a civil rights movement and revolution. Her arrest records can be accessed here (National Archives). While her case was winding its way through the state court system, another case eventually resulted in another ruling in a case called Browder v. Gayle, which held that racial segregation on public buses was unconstitutional (that ruling was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1956). Ms. Parks has, rightly, been referred to as the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.”