On the back of our photos of Rosa Parks was some information about her famous ride. So many of us have not been told the full story. Here is a short version and we invite you to do your own research to learn more -
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She sat in the 5th row with three other Black people. A few stops later, the front four rows were filled with whites, and one white man was left standing. According to law, blacks and whites could not be in the same row, so the bus driver asked all four of the Black people to get up so that the white man could sit down. Three people agreed to get up, but Rosa Parks refused so a policeman came onto the bus and arrested her.
In school we often learn that Rosa Parks’ just didn’t get up because her feet were tired, but the truth is that Rosa Parks was an activist who had already tried to register to vote three times and she was a member of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). She was tired of Black people being treated so badly and she had been inspired by a young woman in her community…………..
On March 2, 1955 Claudette Colvin, a teenager from Montgomery was coming from school. When she was asked to give up her seat she refused. "I'd moved for white people before," Colvin said. But this time, she was thinking of the slavery fighters she had read about recently during Negro History Week in February. "The spirit of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth was in me. I didn't get up." Rosa Parks helped to raise money for Claudette’s legal defense and participated in a training about how to fight segregation. She wasn’t sure if her community would support her but she decided to take a stand anyway.
Monday, Dec. 5, Rosa Parks was tried and convicted. That night there was a packed community meeting where they decided to boycott the buses until the laws were changed to let Black people sit anywhere they wanted on the bus. For more than a year, black people walked and carpooled to work. About 17,000 blacks took part in the boycott initially, but eventually almost 42,000 blacks took part.
The city tried to shut down the car pools. Some people lost their jobs for being a part. But on Dec. 20, 1956, after a federal court order, the bus company was forced to desegregate and the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott was finally over. Not only could the black residents of Montgomery now ride city buses as equals, thanks to their efforts so could many other black citizens throughout the nation.
Today we celebrate Rosa Parks and many other people whose bravery made our lives better. However, we also realize that there are still many things that need to change in our community. What is the most important issue to you? How can you stand up just like Rosa?
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