Rosa Parks was born on February 4, 1913. An iconic American Civil Rights Movement figure, Parks is renowned for her role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Despite facing insurmountable challenges, she stood firm in her beliefs, igniting a revolution that changed the course of history.
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Quick Fact About Rosa Parks
|Full Name:||Rosa Louise McCauley Parks|
|Nick Name:||Mother of the Civil Rights Movement|
|Date of Birth:||February 4, 1913|
|Age:||Died at age 92|
|Net Worth:||$2 million|
|Occupation:||Civil rights activist | Seamstress|
|Death Date:||October 24, 2005|
The Early Years of Rosa Parks
Rosa Louise McCauley was born on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama, to James McCauley, a carpenter, and Leona Edwards, a teacher. She was of Cherokee-Creek, Scots-Irish, and African descent. Rosa’s mother separated from her father and moved with Rosa and her younger brother to Pine Level, Alabama, to live with her parents. Rosa’s maternal grandfather, a formerly enslaved person, served in the Confederate Army.
At a young age, Rosa’s mother enrolled her in Miss White’s School for Girls in Montgomery, where she completed her education through the seventh grade. She then attended the Industrial School for Girls in Montgomery, where she took academic and vocational courses. Though the school was segregated, Rosa excelled in her studies.
Life After the Bus Boycott
After the success of the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott, Rosa Parks and her husband, Raymond, moved to Detroit, Michigan, in 1957. There, Rosa found work as a seamstress until Congressman John Conyers hired her as a secretary and receptionist in his congressional office in 1964. She worked for Conyers for more than 20 years before retiring in 1988.
In Detroit, Rosa remained active in the civil rights movement, giving speeches and working with organizations like the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She also co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development to motivate and direct youths to achieve their highest potential.
Rosa published an autobiography in 1992 titled “Rosa Parks: My Story,” which recounted her life, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and her role in the civil rights movement. In 1994, her memoirs were adapted into a TV movie titled “The Rosa Parks Story” starring Angela Bassett.
Accomplishments and Awards
- Presidential Medal of Freedom: This is the highest civilian award in the U.S., and Rosa Parks was honored with it in 1996.
- Congressional Gold Medal: Parks was granted this in 1999 as a testament to her unwavering spirit.
- Rosa Parks Transit Center: This transit center in Detroit was named after her, honoring her legacy.
- Rosa Parks Day: Several states in the U.S. observe December 1 as Rosa Parks Day.
Despite these numerous awards, Rosa’s most significant accomplishment was igniting a movement that would end segregation and the rise of civil rights for all.
Read More: When Was Sally Williams Born?
Later Years and Death
Even in her later years, Rosa Parks continued to speak out on civil rights and lent her support to progressive causes. She was diagnosed with advanced dementia in 2002 at the age of 89. Due to declining health, she established a foundation to carry her legacy and teachings.
Rosa Parks died of natural causes at 92 on October 24, 2005, in her apartment in Detroit. She lay in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, becoming the first woman and second African American ever to receive this honor. At her funeral, attended by thousands, she was eulogized as “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.”
Rosa was interred between her husband and mother at Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery in the chapel’s mausoleum. The chapel was renamed the Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel in her honor. After her death, President George W. Bush ordered that the front of Montgomery’s central bus depot, where Rosa took her stand in 1955, be commemorated with a bronze statue of Rosa Parks boarding the bus.
Related FAQs About Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks was a brave activist whose act of civil disobedience on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, catalyzed the civil rights movement in the United States. Born Rosa Louise McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama, on February 4, 1913, Parks committed her life to activism and the quest for racial equality. She was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger on December 1, 1955, sparking the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott.
After facing hardship for her stance, she moved to Detroit, where she continued her activism. Rosa Parks received many prestigious awards during her lifetime, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, recognizing her pivotal role in history. She died at age 92 on October 24, 2005, in Detroit, leaving behind an empowering legacy of courage in the face of injustice that inspires people worldwide.