File:Rosa Parks (13270402093) (cropped).jpg

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English: Biography: Rosa Parks's deliberate decision to test the practice of Jim Crow was the catalyst that triggered the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. The daughter of James and Leona Edwards McCauley, she grew up in Pine Level, Ala., and was sent away to a private girls' school in Montgomery at the age of 11. She later met Raymond Parks, a serious young barber with whom she spent many hours discussing the burden and injustice of the racial situation; they married in 1932. Mr. Parks was a member of the National Committee to Save the Scottsboro Boys, and she soon joined him in becoming active in the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, serving as secretary and youth adviser. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white passenger on a Montgomery bus. Her arrest and the subsequent development of a 381-day bus boycott by tens of thousands heralded a new phase in the civil rights movement. The Black community formed the Montgomery Improvement Association, electing as president Martin Luther King, Jr.; Mrs. Parks served for a time on its board of directors. Fired from her job as an assistant tailor in a department store, she stayed in Montgomery until the boycott forced an end to all discriminatory practices on the bus lines. In 1957 she and her husband moved to Detroit, Mich., where in 1965 she took a part-time job as receptionist and administrative aide in the office of Congressman John Conyers. She was the first woman in 1980 to receive the Martin Luther King, Jr., Nonviolent Peace Prize. There is a National Committee for the Rosa L. Parks Shrine, organized to commemorate her life by the establishment of a home and library.

Description: The Black Women Oral History Project interviewed 72 African American women between 1976 and 1981. With support from the Schlesinger Library, the project recorded a cross section of women who had made significant contributions to American society during the first half of the 20th century. Photograph taken by Judith Sedwick
Repository: Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America.
Collection: Black Women Oral History Project
Research Guide:

Author Schlesinger Library, RIAS, Harvard University
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