Parks, Rosa Louise

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Parks, Rosa Louise

Rosa Louise Parks, 1913–2005, American civil-rights activist, b. Tuskegee, Ala., as Rosa Louise McCauley. A seamstress and long-time activist-member of the Montgomery, Ala., chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), her Dec. 1, 1955, arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a municipal bus to a white man sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. This successful protest, which lasted just over a year, marked the emergence of Martin Luther King, Jr., to national prominence as a civil-rights leader and provided the model for future nonviolent movement actions. Fired from her job and unable to find work, Parks moved in 1957 to Detroit, where she remained active in the civil-rights movement and worked (1965–88) as an aide to Congressman John Conyers. She was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress's highest honor, in 1999.

See her autobiography (1992); biography by D. Brinkley (2000) and J. Theoharis (2013).

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