Rosa Parks was an American civil rights activist responsible for starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a significant event in the Civil Rights Movement in the US. She was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, on February 4, 1913, and passed away on October 24, 2005, in Detroit, Michigan at the age of 92.
Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white passenger on a bus on December 1, 1995, and this refusal led to her arrest and trial. This incident sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and aided the nationwide movement to end segregation.
This post covers the biography of Rosa Parks and includes some interesting facts about Rosa Parks for kids.
Rosa Parks Biography For Kids
Early life and family
Rosa Louisa McCauley was born to James McCauley and Leona McCauley. Her mother was a teacher, and her father was a carpenter. Rosa’s parents separated when she was two, after which her mother moved with Rosa and her younger brother, Sylvester, to Pine Level, Alabama to live with their grandparents.
Rosa Parks attended the rural school at Pine Level and then moved to the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls after turning 11. Later, she attended a laboratory school for secondary education run by the Alabama State Teachers College. She, however, left school to tend to her sick grandmother and mother in Pine Level.
She finally received her high school diploma in 1934, after her marriage.
Rosa married Raymond Parks in 1932. She was 19 then. Mr. Parks was a barber from Montgomery and was also a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Raymond encouraged her to complete her high school. Rosa joined the NAACP in 1943. She was the youth leader and also went on to become the secretary of the NAACP President, E.D. Dixon.
Impact Of Rosa Parks’ Arrest
- On December 1, 1955, Rosa, then 42 and working as a seamstress, boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus to go home after a busy day at work. She paid for her ticket and took a seat in the first row of the seats designated for people of color.
- As the bus filled with passengers, the driver noticed that a white man was standing in the aisle because there were no empty seats. He asked the four Black passengers sitting in the first row of the seats to give up their seats for the white passengers.
- Three of the passengers seated in the row obliged, but Rosa remained seated and refused to get up. When the driver asked her, “Are you going to stand up?” she replied, “No.” The driver called the police and got her arrested for civil disobedience.
- In protest of her arrest, African-Americans boycotted city bus service on December 5, 1955, the day of Rosa’s trial. People stayed at home, took a cab, or walked to work or school. Around 90% of Black citizens in Montgomery participated in the boycott.
- The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted for 381 days (13 months) and ended only when the Supreme Court desegregated public transit vehicles. The boycott ended on December 20, 1956, making it one of the biggest and most successful civil rights movements against racial segregation of all time.
Life After The Bus Boycott
Although Rosa Parks gained popularity, became a symbol of equal rights, and was called “the mother of the civil rights movement,” she faced many problems in her personal and professional life. She and her husband lost their jobs.
Eventually, as they could not find work in Montgomery, Rosa and Raymond Parks moved to Detroit in Michigan. There, Rosa worked as a secretary and receptionist in U.S. Representative John Conyers’ office.
In 1987, she founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development. This organization conducts bus tours called “Pathways to Freedom” and acquaints young people with their civil rights.
28 Rosa Parks Facts For Kids
Rosa Parks was a simple lady with an extraordinary story. Here are a few facts about Rosa Parks that will inspire children.
- Rosa Parks finished her high school education at a time when less than 7% of African-Americans had a high school degree.
- Rosa Parks’ grandparents were former slaves and were strong advocates of racial equality.
- Rosa was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award given to a civilian citizen.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the leaders of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
- Rosa Parks published an autobiography named Rosa Parks: My Story in 1992.
- Rosa Parks wrote a memoir in 1995 named Quiet and Strength in which she explained how faith played a significant role in her life.
- There is a street named “Rosa Parks Boulevard” in Detroit.
- When the 15-year-old Claudette Colvin was arrested for not giving up her seat for a white passenger nine months before Rosa Parks, Rosa collected funds for her defense.
- Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist even before her arrest.
- The driver who caused Rosa Parks to be arrested was called James F. Blake. Rosa Parks had encountered him before when he had refused to let her into the bus after she had paid her fare.
- Rosa Parks’ refusal to rise from the seat was not premeditated.
- Rosa Parks was not sitting in a white-only section.
- On December 5, Rosa Parks was convicted of disorderly conduct and fined $10, including $4 in court costs.
- After her arrest and bail, Rosa Parks was arrested again in February 1956 for participating in the boycott.
- On the 50th anniversary of her arrest, on 1st December 2005, buses kept a seat empty to honor the memory of Rosa Parks.
- Rosa Parks received many threats during the boycott, including ones on her life. The homes of several civil rights leaders were bombed during the boycott.
- The founder of Little Caesars, Mike Ilitch, and his wife Marian paid the rent of Rosa Parks’s apartment in Detroit for over ten years.
- Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up the seat and the subsequent boycott were milestones in the American Civil Rights Movement to end segregation.
- Rosa Parks actively worked in bringing to light the various difficulties African Americans faced to the entire world.
- President Barack Obama unveiled a statue of Rosa Parks in the Capitol Building in 2013.
- Rosa Parks often worked as a seamstress when she needed money.
- The bus that Rosa Parks traveled in is now displayed at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan.
- Rosa Parks wrote four books.
- She was named one of Time Magazine’s 1999 “20 Most Influential People of the 20th Century.”
- December 1 and February 4 are celebrated as Rosa Parks Day in some states in the US.
- Rosa Parks was the first woman to lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol when she died on October 24, 2005.
- More than 50,000 people came to pay their last respects when she died.
- She was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her efforts.
Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat began a new chapter in the Civil Rights Movement in America. At a time when African-Americans were segregated and not given equal rights, she stood up for herself and others.
Introduce your children to Rosa Parks to help them understand the hardships African-Americans underwent and the determination they showed to overcome them.