On this day 61 years ago, seamstress Rosa Parks refused to obey an order from a bus driver to give up her seat to a white man and was arrested for violating Montgomery, Alabama’s racial segregation laws. Although Parks was not the first person to ‘stand up’ in order to stay seated on a bus, her act of defiance sparked a yearlong city bus boycott that galvanized the Civil Rights Movement. (1955)
At the time, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and had been trained as an activist. But, on this day, she acted as a private citizen who was simply “tired of giving in”.
She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation and organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., a new minister in town (pictured, right).
Although widely honored in later years for her act, she suffered, too; she was fired from her job as a seamstress in a local department store, and received death threats for years afterwards. See books on Rosa Parks, here.
MORE Good News on this Date:
- I Want to Hold Your Hand debuted, The Beatles’ first single released in the United States (1963)
- Central African Republic became independent from France (1958) and Papua New Guinea from Australia (1973)
- First World AIDS Day to promote awareness of the disease (1988)
- East Germany‘s parliament abolished the communist party from the constitutional provision that granted it the leading role in governing (1989)
- The Channel Tunnel sections met as the last rocks were cleared 40 meters beneath the seabed connecting the UK and France (1990)
- Vicente Fox was sworn in as president of Mexico, ending 71 years of rule by a single political party (2000)
- President-elect Barack Obama announced that Hillary Clinton would be his secretary of state (2008)