Today, February 4, 1913, Rosa Louis McCauley (Parks) was born in Tuskegee, Alabama. She is best known for not giving up her seat to a white man on December 1, 1955. This event, arguabl, sparked what is popularly known as the Civil Rights movement with the Montgomery bus boycott. No black person rode the busses in Montgomery for a little more than a year. This was not the first time this incident happpened though. She had been forced off in 1943, for mistakenly sitting in a seat reserved for whites only. But, years later when she sat in that seat again, she was an officer at the NAACP; a secretary for the Montgomery chapter.
She was active at all times against injustice committed against African Americans. In fact, when she married Raymond Parks in 1932, she stood side by side helping him raise funds for the Scottsboro Boys (the Jena 6 of that time, but they also claimed they raped two white girls). But her involvement with the Montgomery bus boycott and her arrest after refusing to move out of the seat came with a price. Her husband was vocal about the incident and the boycott on his job. He had to quit because his boss forbade him to speak about the incident or the case on the job. She lost her job at a department store. There was said to be so much controversy and/or disagreement between Martin Luther King and others leading the civil rights movement in Montgomery that they decided to move.
In 1957, her and her husband left Montgomery and ended up in Hampton, Va., but that didn’t work out and they ended up in Detroit, Mi. where she died at the ripe old age of 92. Mrs. Parks has received every award of excellence rewarded to a civilian that the governmenet could give. When she died, October 24, 2005, her body was lay in honor at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda where 55,000 people came for their last goodbyes. This honor was the first time for a woman and only the second time for an African American. Detroit is home to the largest African American museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, where she lay for 2 days for the residents of her fair city paid their respects.
Before her death, she received the highest awards in the land. The NAACP awarded her their highest honor, the Spingarn Medal. In 1996, Clinton awarded her the highest award the executive branch could bestow, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Two years later, she received the Congressional medal of freedom, the highest honor given by the legislative branch. She has many more awards, dozens of honorary doctorates and was an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc.
Check out the awesome homegoing address presented by Al Sharpton: