Byline: By Emily Nash
THE HUMBLE woman who changed America forever by refusing to give up her seat to a white man has died at the age of 92Rosa Lee Parks's act of defiance almost 50 years ago in the southern American state of Alabama prompted a black boycott of buses.
The protest helped trigger the formation of the modern US civil rights movement and led to racial discrimination being outlawed in America.
Mrs Parks, who had suffered from progressive dementia, died in her sleep on Monday night at her home in Detroit, Michigan.
Yesterday, world figures paid tribute to her achievements.
Former US president Bill Clinton described her as a woman of "great courage, grace and dignity".
He added: "Her refusal to be treated as a second-class citizen struck a blow to racial segregation. She was an inspiration to me and all who work for the day when we will be one America."
Civil rights activist the Reverend Jesse Jackson said: "Rosa Parks has shown the awesome power of right over might in history's long journey for peace and freedom."
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: "She showed how the peaceful actions of an ordinary seamstress could change for the better the lives of millions.
"She will remain an inspirational figure of great hope for many who continue to fight injustice around the world today." Rosa was 42 and already involved in civil rights groups with husband Raymond when she caught a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1955.
After paying the 10 cent fare, she reboarded the bus at the back with other black passengers, taking a seat in the first row of the section reserved for "coloureds".
Three stops later, a white man boarded and had to stand.
To comply with the rules and make room for the white man to sit alone, driver James Blake told Mrs Parks and three other black passengers to move But she refused, saying: "I'm tired of being treated like a second-class citizen. …