Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement

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People who emit courage and bravery are the ones that help change and shape the future. Due to one African American woman and her brave actions, the future has become a more equal space. Once a segregated United States, we now have equality and are more diverse as a country. There are no longer places labeled “colored only” or “whites only”. On the day of December 1st, 1955 Rosa Parks made a decision that would affect the future of ending racism. Due to her actions of not refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person, all races are now allowed to have the same privileges. She sparked a movement that is considered to be of the utmost importance that has desegregated the United States. She changed the course of the nation.

Everything was started when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the Cleveland Avenue bus on the day of December 1st, 1955. The events to follow such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, and current integration of society are because of her. Before Park’s bus occurrence, she had been involved in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for twelve years. Parks attended her first NAACP meeting in 1943 and on the same day was elected as secretary. Her and E.D. Nixon worked diligently for ten years to turn it into an activist outlet. They focused very intently on criminal justice by attempting to create laws to protect African Americans from violence. They also aimed to expose public lynching’s, which was controversial. She was the head of the Youth Division of the Montgomery NAACP branch for many years. After a long day of working Parks got on a bus that was being driven by a familiar face. She had known that this bus driver was not a fan of her because they had run-ins prior to that day. Twelve years prior to this, Parks was boarding a Montgomery bus. During that time, African Americans paid at the front of the bus, go back outside, and enter through the back door. They were not allowed to walk past the white passengers. On a particularly cold and rainy day, Rosa Parks was denied being able to walk to her seat because she did not want to walk in the rain. She protested by sitting in the “whites only” seat and the driver kicked her off of the bus into the rain. Rosa Parks was forced to walk home in the miserable weather. On December 1st, 1955, Parks got on a bus with the same driver from the previous time. She decided to sit in a section of the bus that gives white people privilege over African Americans.

Although African Americans were allowed to sit in that area, they would have to give it up if they saw a white person standing. After a few stops, the bus had picked up some white people. Parks knew she had to give her seat up to them. After the rest of the African Americans had moved out of the way for the white passengers, Rosa Parks remained calm and stayed in her seat. Unfortunately, she was sent to jail for her courageous actions. She was later bailed out by her husband due to a phone call with her mother. Parks was known to have a calm and peaceful personality; Rosa Parks had not done anything to break the law prior to this incident. She wanted to end segregation in a civil matter. She had worked in “The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People” for twelve years fighting for equality. In an interview regarding the bus incident, she was asked if she was afraid of doing such a brave thing. Her response was,” I was very determined to let it be known how it felt to be treated in that manner — discriminated against. I was thinking mostly about how inconvenienced I was — stopping me from going home and doing my work — something I had not expected.” During this time period and prior to the bus incident, segregation was an ongoing and prominent issue. It had been going on since before the Civil War. Slavery had existed and racial issues had continued to stay.

Still, to that day of the incident, African Americans were separated in every type of situation. They were segregated in school which was later challenged in the case of “Brown Vs. Board of Education”, at restaurants, and in most public places. Normal casual places that should have allowed integration did not. This is one of the reasons that Rosa Parks had worked in the NAACP and had not given up her bus seat to the white passenger. She had strong beliefs that forced her to do what was right for not only her but her fellow African American citizens. While Rosa Parks is one of the many people associated with The Civil Rights Movement and equality, she is known as “the mother of the civil rights movement”. [2] Many people who protested for equal rights back in the day were usually younger and bolder. Kids and teenagers were the common types who protested because they wanted to see change for their future. One activist was Freeman Hrabowski, who was just a young twelve-year-old when he felt inspired to march in the Birmingham Children's Crusade of 1963. He had heard about this march that would be happening for integrated schools and he wanted to partake in it.

The image of a protester for civil rights was usually known to be young and very outgoing. Rosa Parks was the very opposite of this typical person. Parks, on the other hand was married. She had a family with two children and was in her forties. This did not mean that she could not achieve results. It made her stand out even further which was ideal for the Civil Rights Movement. She stood out in her movement due to her circumstances. Parks had already lived through the segregated years and had been trying to make an impact. She gained attention and was able to ignite a spark that moved the Civil Rights Movement in a whole new direction. Rosa Park’s actions first sparked a further movement with a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system. This civil rights protest consisted of African Americans refusing to ride public buses in Montgomery, Alabama. The protest started as a one-day event, but the NAACP knew that it would take much longer to see any action take place. This movement started on December 5, 1955, and lasted until December 20, 1956. This boycott marked the first large scale protest against segregation. The young African American pastor who was one of the leaders alongside Parks was Doctor Martin Luther King Junior who famously stated, “We must use the weapon of love. We must have compassion and understanding for those who hate us. We must realize so many people are taught to hate us that they are not totally responsible for their hate.” Martin Luther King was the president of “The Montgomery Improvement Association” and he quickly gained attention from the boycott. The bus boycott demonstrated the success of a peaceful and civil protest. It showed that you do not have to give in to violence to solve an issue.

This movement was used as an example for other southern campaigns that wanted to follow in the same direction. This boycott soon led to something that would change the way people travel through public transportation forever. In December of 1956, an important event occurred after years of fighting for equality. The Supreme Court made a critical decision and ruled to end segregation on all forms of public transportation. They ruled that segregation on public buses and other forms of transportation was illegal. Because of Rosa Parks and everyone by her side, people were now able to sit wherever they may choose to on their way to work, home, or any other public place. This was just the beginning of what was to come due to the actions of these important people. Just 10 years later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. This was a pivotal movement in history. This ended segregation in all public places. It also banned employment discrimination on that basis of religion, gender, or national origin. This was one of the most important events that have shaped America.

Due to this act being passed, people of all races and backgrounds can enjoy life in public. People do not have to worry about sitting in a certain part of a bus or using only a “colored people” bathroom. All different types of people can apply for any career of their choosing. We as a country have melted together when it comes to racial equality. Furthermore, the Civil Rights Movement progressed even further with the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Prior to this act in Marion, Alabama a group of white segregationists attacked African Americans who were peacefully protesting. In the chaos of this situation, a state trooper accidentally shot one of the African American demonstrators named Jimmie Lee Jackson. Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. and other activists planned a protest march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery in Jimmies name. A few days later, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered Congress to conduct a meeting to put a stop to barriers preventing African Americans from voting. He stated, “There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem.

There is only an American problem. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negros, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.” In August of that year, Congress passed the law. It guaranteed the right to vote for every African American. More specifically, literacy tests were banned, mandated federal oversight of voter registration in areas where tests had previously been used and gave power to the U.S. attorney general that gave the duty of challenging the use of poll taxes for state and local elections. As of today, not only are African Americans allowed to join in on activities that white people can do, but all other races are allowed to as well. Anyone can go to the school of their choice and attend the classes that they desire. Students do not have to worry about other kids being exclusive towards them or having people stare at them in school. All races are allowed to vote for political candidates without taking literacy tests or being denied the opportunity because of their skin color.

African Americans and whites are no longer designated a water fountain or area of a store or building of any type. Everyone can enjoy the integration of one another and carry on with their day without having to worry if they do not belong. It is normal to witness many different races coming together to live their lives like normal.

In conclusion, Rosa Parks sparked a movement that changed equality for the better. The civil rights movement and all the people involved helped change the world of equality forever. We as a country have melted together when it comes to racial equality. It all started with the catalyst herself, Rosa Parks. She was one of the first steps to integrating America. Her actions were the beginning of a strenuous journey, but they were crucial for a better environment. Due to her bravery and persistence, African Americans and whites are now treated as the same. If Parks had given up her seat on the Cleveland Avenue bus, we might not have come this far. While we as the United States are nowhere near perfection, we have certainly come a long way since the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks showed what courage and resilience towards racial discrimination look like. She also proved that you can stand up for what you believe in even if it means going against the crowd for a good cause.

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Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement. (2020, May 13). Retrieved May 20, 2024 , from

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