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Rosa Parks

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

Portrait of Rosa Parks. 1955.

‪•‬‬After a day at work at Montgomery Fair department store, Rosa Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus at around 6 pm, Thursday, December 1, 1955, in downtown Montgomery, Alabama.

•‬She paid her fare and sat in an empty seat in the first row of back seats reserved for blacks in the “colored” section, which was near the middle of the bus and directly behind the ten seats reserved for white passengers. Initially, she had not noticed that the bus driver was the same man, James F. Blake, who had left her in the rain in 1943.

•‬As the bus traveled along its regular route, all the white-only seats in the bus filled up. The bus reached the third stop in front of the Empire Theater, and several white passengers boarded.

•‬Following standard practice, the bus driver Blake noted it filled the front of the bus with white passengers and there were two or three men standing. Therefore, he moved the “colored” section sign behind Parks and demanded that four black people give up their seats in the middle section so that the white passengers could sit.

•‬When Parks refused to give up her seat, a police officer arrested her. They charged Parks with a violation of Chapter 6, Section 11 segregation law of the Montgomery City code. Even though she technically had not taken up a white-only seat—she had been in a colored section. E.D. Nixon and Clifford Durr bailed Parks out of jail on the evening of December 1.

•‬‪News of her arrest spread quickly through the black population, and with the help of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Montgomery Bus Boycott was launched. The boycott lasted for 382 days when the courts ordered that the segregation of city bus services were unconstitutional.‬