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Rosa Parks: The First Lady of Civil Rights

Rosa Parks: The First Lady of Civil Rights

Some facts about Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Bowder v Gayle, and Civil Rights.

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  1. About • Lived in Montgomery, Alabama ◦ grandparents were former

    slaves and strong advocates for racial equality • Attended segregated school ◦ Black students had to walk to 1-room school ◦ White students were bussed to new school building • Married ◦ Raymond Parks, a barber and an active member of the NAACP; no children • NAACP ◦ Youth leader of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ◦ Secretary to NAACP president
  2. Montgomery Buses at the time • First 4 rows for

    whites; sections marked by moveable sign • Driver could move the sign or remove it • “Colored section” for blacks who were 75% of ridership • Law at the time: Black people allowed in middle seats until white area filled up, then black people were to move back or stand • Black people could not sit in same row as white people
  3. Montgomery Buses at the time • If white people were

    sitting in the front: ◦ Black people were to board at front to pay, THEN ◦ Exit bus and re-enter from back door • Others had protested and been arrested for breaking these rules before Parks
  4. "My resisting being mistreated on the bus did not begin

    with that particular arrest. I did a lot of walking in Montgomery." - Rosa Parks
  5. 1943: Parks Bus experience • Parks boarded a bus and

    paid the fare • moved to her seat, but driver James F. Blake told her to follow city rules and enter the bus again from the back door. • When Parks exited the vehicle, Blake drove off without her • Parks waited for the next bus, determined never to ride with Blake again • This was all in the rain
  6. 1955: Civil Disobedience • She was sitting in middle “colored

    section” • White-only section filled up • He moved the "colored" section sign behind Parks and demanded that four black people give up their seats in the middle section so that the white passengers could sit ◦ Driver: “Y'all better make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats” • Three others complied • Parks moved, but toward the window seat; she did not get up to move to the redesignated colored section
  7. “When that white driver stepped back toward us, when he

    waved his hand and ordered us up and out of our seats, I felt a determination cover my body like a quilt on a winter night” - Rosa Parks
  8. Dialogue • Driver: "Why don't you stand up?" • Parks:

    "I don't think I should have to stand up." • Driver: “Well, if you don't stand up, I'm going to have to call the police and have you arrested” • Parks: “You may do that.” Driver called police
  9. “I would have to know for once and for all

    what rights I had as a human being and a citizen” - Rosa Parks
  10. “People always say that I didn't give up my seat

    because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in” - Rosa Parks
  11. • Charges ◦ Disorderly conduct ◦ Violating local ordinance •

    Found guilty, Fined $10 + $4 court costs ◦ $134 in 2019 dollars Arrest + Charges
  12. Boycott • Allies ◦ Nixon President of the Montgomery NAACP

    ◦ College Professor Jo Ann Robinson of Women's Political Council (WPC) • Overnight, Robinson made 35,000 copies of flyer for boycott ◦ Announced at black churches, front-page article in newspaper • Conditions of boycott ◦ Black people treated with the level of courtesy they expected ◦ black drivers hired ◦ seating in the middle of the bus was handled on a first-come basis
  13. This is for Monday, December 5, 1955 Another Negro woman

    has been arrested and thrown in jail because she refused to get up out of her seat on the bus for a white person to sit down. It is the second time since the Claudette Colbert case that a Negro women has been arrested for the same thing This has to be stopped. Negroes have rights, too, for if Negroes did not ride the buses, they could not operate. Three-fourths of the riders are Negroes, yet we are arrested, or have to stand over empty seats. If we do not do something to stop these arrests, they will continue. The next time it may be you, or your daughter, or mother. This woman's case will come up on Monday. We are, therefore, asking every Negro to stay off the busses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial. Don't ride the busses to work, to town, to school, or anywhere on Monday. You can afford to stay out of school for one day if you have no other way to go except by bus. You can also afford to stay out of town for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don't ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off of all buses Monday.
  14. The Montgomery Bus Boycott • Decided to form new organization

    to lead boycott ◦ Reverend suggested “Montgomery Improvement Association” ◦ Members elected Martin Luther King Jr. as president, at that time mostly unknown • Transport ◦ Carpools ◦ Black-operated cabs with same fare as bus ◦ Rest walked upto 30km
  15. The Montgomery Bus Boycott • 381 days • City busses

    mostly empty ◦ Crippling finances for its transit company • Violence by segregationists ◦ Black churches burned ◦ Homes of King and Nixon were bombed • Insurance for city taxi system used by Blacks was cancelled • Black people arrested for violating “antiquated law prohibiting boycotts”
  16. • Armed with the Brown v. Board of Education decision

    ◦ separate but equal policies had no place in public education • District court ◦ June 1956, the declared racial segregation "Jim Crow" laws unconstitutional ◦ City of Montgomery appealed • U.S. Supreme Court ◦ November 13, 1956 upheld the lower court's ruling, declaring segregation on public transport to be unconstitutional • City of Montgomery lifted segregation ◦ Boycott officially ended on December 20, 1956 Legal Action: Bowder v Gayle
  17. “We hold that the statutes and ordinances requiring segregation of

    the white and colored races on the motor buses of a common carrier of passengers in the City of Montgomery and its police jurisdiction violate the due process and equal protection of the law clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States” -- Supreme Court, Bowder v Gayle https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/browder-v-gayle-1956/ Legal Action
  18. • Unanimous ruling that racial segregation of children in public

    schools was unconstitutional • established precedent that “separate-but-equal” education and other services were not, in fact, equal at all 1954: Brown v. Board of Education
  19. • granted citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in

    the United States." • included former slaves recently freed • forbids states from ◦ denying any person "life, liberty or property, without due process of law" ◦ or to "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws 1868: 14th Amemdment
  20. • Fired from her job as a seamstress in a

    local department store ◦ Husband could not find work ◦ Death threats for years ◦ Couple moved to Detroit with her mother • Subsequently ◦ For over 20 years, secretary and receptionist to African-American US Representative John Conyers ◦ Active in black rights movement After boycott
  21. Recognition • NAACP's 1979 Spingarn Medal • Presidential Medal of

    Freedom • Congressional Gold Medal • posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall • first woman to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda • Rosa Parks Day ◦ California + Missouri: her birthday February 4 ◦ Ohio and Oregon : anniversary of the day she was arrested, December 1.
  22. "Refusing to give up a seat on a segregated bus

    was the simplest of gestures, but her grace, dignity, and refusal to tolerate injustice helped spark a Civil Rights Movement that spread across America." - Former President Barack Obama