Who Is Rosa Parks? Essay, Research Paper
Who is Rosa Parks? Rosa Parks is someone who grew up believing people should be judged by the respect they have for themselves and others. (Le Blanc, 190) Rosa Parks is mostly known for standing up for herself and for other all other African Americans when she refused to go to the back of the bus to give up her seat for a white man. (Le Blanc, 190) When Rosa took a stand, she didn?t do it to make her name go down in history. She did it because she believed in herself and she stood up for an injustice she thought was wrong. Rosa Parks is a courageous and very remarkable person.
Rosa Parks was born in Tuskagee, Alabama. When she was a young child her parents separated. After her parents got divorced, she moved to Montgomery with her mom. (Le Blanc, 189) She grew up with an extended family that consisted of her maternal grandparents and Sylvester, her younger brother. (Le Blanc, 189) Rosa?s mother was a school teacher and she was taught by her until age 11. (Celsi, 1) At age 11 she went to Montgomery Industrial School for Girls. It was an all black school. Everything in Montgomery was either ?blacks only? or ?whites only.? Though she found it humiliating, Parks became used to obeying segregation laws. (Celsi, 1)
?With her mother?s help, Rosa was able to grow up proud of herself and other black people.? (Contemporary Black Biography, 190) By the time she reached the midpoint of her life, Rosa was no longer a stranger to white intimidation. (Le Blanc, 190) At the age of 20, Rosa married Raymond Parks, who was a barber. Rosa and Raymond had to keep steady jobs to support themselves. (Le Blanc, 190)
Rosa hated the way of life. She had always dreamed of equality and freedom. (Stewart, 1) Although Rosa grew up with segregation, she turned out to be a very well rounded unique person many people can look up to. She was just a normal person with a normal life, but she did something that not many black people back then had the courage to do?she stood up for herself.
In Rosa?s spare time, she became active in the NAACP. She was also active in the Montgomery Voters League. (Le Blanc, 190) The Montgomery Voters League was a group that helped black people pass a special test so they could register to vote. (Le Blanc, 190) Rosa had been silently protesting segregation in her own quiet way over the years. For example, instead of riding up an elevator that said ?blacks only? she would take the stairs. (Le Blanc, 190) The most well known boycott is the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This was a boycott that took place in response to Rosa?s arrest. Her arrest caused black people throughout Montgomery to refuse to ride buses. (Church, 393) The success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott encouraged a wave of massive demonstrations that swept across the South. (Church, 394)
Rosa Parks has succeeded in establishing herself in history by what she did. She is one of the most honored and distinguished African Americans in our history. (Asante, 71) Rosa Parks stood didn?t only stand up for herself, she stood up for racism. It must have been hard for her because not only was she an African American, she was also a woman, and back then things were much more difficult for women.
Even though Rosa did something very courageous, some might say she isn?t the best leader. Many leaders give speeches, lead demonstrations and write petitions. Rosa Parks didn?t do any of these things. Other people were motivated to do these things because of her standing up for herself. (Asante, 71)
The most important incident that happened in Rosa?s life occurred on December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks was riding the bus home from work like she did every day. But that day had been especially tiring. (Le Blanc, 190) The bus was a constant irritation to black people. The front four rows were reserved for whites (and remained empty even when there were not enough white passengers to fill them). The back section, which was always very crowded, was for black passengers. In between there were some rows that were really part of the black section, but served as an overflow area for white passengers. If the white section was full, black passengers in the middle section had to vacate their seats, not just one seat?the whole row had to be empty even if only one white passenger required a seat. (Celsi, 2) That is exactly the situation, which happened to Rosa Parks on the evening of December 1, 1955. Rosa took her seat in the middle section. (Celsi, 2) She was glad to be off her feet at last, when a white man got on the bus and demanded her row be cleared because the white section was full. The others who were sitting in the same row obediently moved to the back of the bus, but Rosa just didn?t feel like standing the rest of the way home. So, surprising everyone she quietly refused to move. (Celsi, 2)
The white bus driver threatened to call the police unless Rosa gave up her seat. Rosa just calmly replied, ?Go ahead and call them.? By the time the police arrived the driver was very angry. When he was asked whether he wanted Rosa to be arrested or let off with a warning, he insisted for Rosa to be arrested. Rosa was then taken off to the police station, where she was fingerprinted and jailed. She was allowed to make one phone call. (Celsi, 2) Rosa used her one phone call to call E.D. Nixon, a friend from NAACP and a lawyer. When he heard what happened to Rosa, he was outraged. (Le Blanc, 190)
?Her case was the last straw for the blacks of Montgomery.? (Church, 393) Word of Rosa?s arrest spread quickly. The Women?s Political Council decided to protest her treatment by organizing a boycott of the buses. ( Celsi, 2) The boycott was set for December 5, the day of Rosa?s trial, but Martin Luther King Jr. and other members of Montgomery?s black community realized that they had the chance to take firm action and stand up to segregation. (Celsi, 2) So, the Montgomery Improvement Association was formed to organize a boycott that would continue until the bus segregation laws were changed. (Celsi, 2)
The boycott lasted for 382 days, and caused the bus company to lose a large amount of money. The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Montgomery segregation law illegal, and the boycott was finally called off. (Celsi, 2) Also, the rules of the bus were changed. They new rules were:
1. Black and white people could sit wherever they wanted to
2. Bus drivers were to respect all riders
3. Black people were now allowed to apply for driver positions.
(Stewart, 1) This caused other cities to follow in Montgomery?s example. Rosa Parks is known as ?the mother of the Civil Rights Movement.? Though it seems like an honorary role, it?s not an easy one. Rosa was harassed with threats and phone calls during the boycott, which even caused her husband to have a nervous breakdown. In 1957 they moved to Detroit where her brother Sylvester lives. (Celsi, 3)
For awhile, Rosa?s live went without harassment, over the years she even received honorary degrees and awards. But then on August 30, 1994, everyone was stunned when Rosa had been assaulted in her home. She was hit repeatedly and had 53 dollars stolen from her. (Celsi, 3) Many great things have happened because of one remarkable women named Rosa Parks. It all happened because she wasn?t afraid to stand up for herself. So in conclusion, Rosa Parks is a courageous woman whom we can all look up to and admire.