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I “Was Tired of Giving In”: The 55th Anniversary of Rosa Park’s Bus Ride

I “Was Tired of Giving In”: The 55th Anniversary of Rosa Park’s Bus Ride

On December 1st, 1955, a seamstress shook the nation with her refusal to give up a bus seat to a white passenger, instigating one of the greatest civil rights moments in our country’s history.

Via CBS.com:

From a controversial Google doodle to panel discussion with civil rights leaders, various groups across the nation Wednesday celebrated the 55th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ refusal to give her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus to a white passenger.

On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks, who died in 2005, sparked the famous Montgomery bus boycott led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when she defied the Jim Crow law that required black passengers to move to the back of public buses to accommodate whites.

Parks was arrested for refusing to move. The subsequent boycott lasted for 381 days before the Supreme Court eventually ruled the Alabama law unconstitutional. 

 

Asked about that day, Parks stated, “The only tired I was was tired of giving in.”

Parks had not planned to disobey the law on that fateful day, but her thirty-year commitment to social justice prepared her to do so. For her defiance of the segregation ordinance, the Montgomery police took Parks to jail. Montgomery’s police lieutenant, Drue Lackey (who served as police chief from 1965 to 1970 ), took her fingerprints. Responding to a call from Nixon, the white attorney Clifford Durr took her case, but Nixon posted her bail. The court found Parks guilty of disorderly conduct and fined her ten dollars and another four dollars in court costs.

Parks was not the first black woman to have suffered arrest for refusal to countenance bus segregation. In 1941 an angry mob beat Hannah Cofield before she was arrested for refusing to yield her seat to a white passenger. In 1944 Viola White met a similar fate. In March 1955 , a few months before Parks’s arrest, Claudette Colvin , an unmarried, pregnant fifteen-year-old girl, had objected to vacating her seat and was jailed.

The local black leadership had long debated challenging bus segregation, but decided to wait for an incident involving someone who embodied the politics of respectability and whose private life could withstand relentless scrutiny. Thus, although Cofield, White, Colvin, and later, Mary Louise Smith , protested bus segregation, their resistance failed to ignite a larger social protest movement.

 

Now, 55 years later, Park’s legacy is a reminder of courage and determination in the face of oppression – something we could all use a little more of in today’s world.

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48 comments

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8:27AM PST on Jan 31, 2011

I was 16 when this happened and Rosa has been my heroine ever since. She is the reason I have been involved in civil rights issues for 55 years.

1:15PM PST on Dec 3, 2010

Rosa Parks was not the first person to do this but she was the first person to be supported by the NAACP for this. In fact, her action was orchestrated well beforehand; she did not suddenly decide that day was the day she would refuse to move to the back of the bus. This is a good example of how poorly U.S. history is taught in this country. Certain actions are mythologized to the point of absurdity and it leaves the average person with the perception that s/he could never do something such as this.

Then there is the myth of passive resistence. The fact is that civil rights workers in general were heavily armed. This type of false rendering of history can actually endanger those who follow the mythology to their peril.

8:15AM PST on Dec 3, 2010

Ewoud k. is sooooo right. Great injustices must be taken on, often with great courage, by not just one person here and there, but by many dedicated peace and justice activists, working together.

Tragic, but in today's U.S. of (greed and power) A.(ddiction),Rosa (and my Mom) would be tagged as being 'anarchists'. And who would tag them? The enforcers: govt. operatives - F.B.I., C.I.A., N.S.A. - the list goes on and on, with over 80,000 of them now employed and telling local authorities what to do and how to do it to we the sheeple. They don't stop at merely arresting the 'anarchists'. Google: Colorado Springs Independent, Jan. 21, 2010, "No Peace or Justice".

Elizabeth Fineron was like Rosa in many ways. My hope is that some day in the future, when our villinaire rulers and their enforcers and puppet whores are outed and, please God, real peace and justice prevails, Elizabeth, the 65 year old fully disabled former nun who was tripped and dragged 'til bloody and raw for wearing her green shirt with a peace sign on it and asking for the name and badge number of the 'bad cop' who was intimidating and brutalizing other peaceful, St. Paddy's Day parade participants (with permit), will, like Rosa, be celebrated for the martyr for good and God that she was.

Re. mixie b. and commentors like 'mixie', maybe they're disagreement antagonists. Or, could be one of the 80,000, keeping we the sheeple in line and under the control of the villianaire rulers.

5:11AM PST on Dec 3, 2010

Wow...10 years before Rosa Parks.

Voila Desmond sure had tremendous strenght of character to take such a stand that early in the game.

And all alone in a strange place without any support !!!

And what a family legacy to leave behind.


This Mixie b issue needs to be looked into...a non member posting ???

Something smells here.

Regards...


1:35AM PST on Dec 3, 2010

Rosa Park did the right thing the right moment, and we have to thank her for this.

But don't forget that without the support of the numerous anonymous others who backed her action things would have ended differently.

Thanks to ALL of them!

And nowadays it's the same, the action of ONE is not enough, it may start a movement, but if no-one follows, the individual action,how good and well thaought it may be, will get no attention.

10:15PM PST on Dec 2, 2010

It's possible Sharon. It seems some people have a lot of time on their hands and I guess maybe unsure of what to do with it, they fritter it away by trolling forums such as ours to get attention and /or possibly piss someone off on a good day.
I guess that's easier than gaining the knowledge one can get here or working with others to make things better. It's much easier to make an outrageous comment for which they might be asked to explain --but they won't cause like cowards they'll be long gone.

9:45PM PST on Dec 2, 2010

That should tell you alot about Mixie B and her comment "irregardless" is considered a nonstandard definition, lol!!!

7:55PM PST on Dec 2, 2010

I went to the civil rights museum in Memphis, and I found the information fascinating. I love the south even though it has some unfortunate history.
My experience going on the famous bus at the museum, me and my boyfriend (white) walked on, through the back door and looked around and sat down. A family who was black came on through the front doors looked around and sat down. We all looked at each other and started laughing at the irony of the situation. A good experience and something I will never forget.

5:29PM PST on Dec 2, 2010

February 1945. I was serving on a British Tanker visiting Louisiana. Traveling from new Orleans on a Greyhound coach.
I sat next to an attractive colored girl ( I was 17 yrs old) who promptly, to my astonishment, repaired further back. At the next stop a white man came on and removed, what I hadn't noticed, a sign saying "Blacks rear of this seat" and placed it behind me. Now I was offended.

Earlier in that day I had asked directions of an elderly colored gentleman and thanked him as I would have any person older than myself with, "Thank you very much Sir." I can still hear him telling a companion. "That Limey called me SIR."

In Australia there was some racial discrimination but not to the level of the institutionalised procedures in the U. S.A. There will always be those who feel racially superior but usually the motivation is it is because they are inferior, and that is even within there own racial group. i.e. they are so low on the intellectual level they have to believe they are above somebody.

4:50PM PST on Dec 2, 2010

Bravo Rosa Parks, but for the rest of us - don't sit back thinking the victory has been won. There are just as many bigots out there still that need to be resisted.

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