American civil rights activist, Rosa Parks was born in Alabama on this day in 1913.
In 1900, Montgomery passed a city ordinance mandating that bus riders be separated by race with a section for whites in the front, and blacks in the back. Though the law didn't initially require that anyone give up their seat, it began happening, with blacks being asked to make room for white passengers who were left standing, by ceding their seat and moving to the back of the bus.
On December 1st 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and was arrested, jailed, and fined. Contrary to popular belief, Rosa Parks did not get up, not because she was physically tired, but because she was "tired of giving in." Her act of defiance inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which began on the first day of her trial (December 5th) and lasted 381 days.
Martin Luther King Jr. emerged as a leader of the boycott, urging that violence be met with nonviolence.
Then-soldier and future athletic star Jackie Robinson also refused to surrender his seat in 1944.
The United States Supreme Court upheld the decision of a federal court: Alabama's bus segregation law was unconstitutional. Backlash ensued and there were many displays of violent white criminal activity, in protest of the decision.
Parks became a civil rights icon, but continued to be subjected to racism, even receiving death threats for her brave stand.
When she died in 2005, she became the first woman, as well as the first person who hadn't been a government official, whose body was honored by lying in state, in the rotunda of the US Capitol.
December 1st, 1955
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