Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, known as the “mother of the freedom struggle” and “first lady of civil rights,” was an American civil rights campaigner. She was an African-American civil rights activist who kicked off the ‘Civil Rights Movement’ by taking a risk that no other African-American had dared to take before. She lived and worked in Montgomery, Alabama, where racial segregation laws harmed black people. In public buses, it appears that black people were not permitted to seat next to white people. They had unique designated seats in the bus’s rear section, and their seating was entirely at the discretion of the driver. Parks was requested to give up her seat to a white passenger on her way home from work one day, but she declined. She was arrested for this act in 1955, and the episode sparked the ‘Civil Rights Movement.’ Parks grew up, worked, and spent the majority of her life in Montgomery, where she and her husband were both members of a social activist group. Her deeds were known for their magnanimity. She committed her time and efforts to social problems and the emancipation of African-Americans throughout her life.
Childhood and Adolescence
Rosa Louise McCauley was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, to Leona and James McCauley on February 4, 1913. She was from a middle-class household. Her father worked as a carpenter, while her mother taught. Her parents divorced, and she and her mother moved to Pine Level.
She went to Montgomery’s ‘Industrial School for Girls.’ She then attended secondary school at the ‘Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes,’ which was established by the ‘Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes.’ She dropped out, though, in order to care for her family.
Career of Rosa Parks
Parks worked as a domestic worker, a hospital assistant, and other menial occupations after marrying in 1932 since she lacked the necessary formal education to secure a decent career. She completed high school on her husband’s persuasion.
In 1943, Parks became more involved in the ‘Civil Rights Movement,’ joining the NAACP’s Montgomery chapter. Parks was voted as the organization’s secretary because she was the only female there.
She was assigned to investigate the gang-rape of a black lady called Recy Taylor in 1944 while working as a secretary. She established the ‘Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor’ campaign with other campaigners.
Parks obtained a position at ‘Maxwell Air Force Base’ in the following years, since federal property did not tolerate prejudice. She also worked as a housekeeper for liberal white couple Clifford and Virginia Durr.
Parks joined a large assembly in Montgomery in 1955 to debate the case of Emmett Till, a black teenager who was murdered at the age of 14 for offending a white woman. The meeting focused on societal challenges of racial segregation.
She was requested to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger. In 1955, she was arrested for refusing to do so. She was accused with breaking the law’s Section 11 of Chapter 6, which prohibits segregation.
The next evening, she was bailed out by Edgar Nixon, the head of the Montgomery NAACP chapter, and a friend called Clifford Durr. In retaliation, Nixon announced a bus boycott alongside Jo Ann Robinson.
The ‘Montgomery Bus Boycott’ was declared at black churches the next morning, and the news was publicized in ‘The Montgomery Advertiser.’ Its goal was to demand that black people be treated equally, that black bus drivers be hired, and so on.
Although it appeared that Parks’ lawsuit would take years to resolve, the state pushed her case forward as the ‘Montgomery Bus Boycott,’ which lasted 381 days, disrupted the public bus system.
Parks is regarded as a pioneer in raising international awareness of African-Americans’ plight and the civil rights struggle since Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote about Parks’ arrest in his 1958 book ‘Stride Toward Freedom.’
Despite her celebrity, Parks was forced to relocate to Virginia in 1957 because she was unable to keep her employment owing to anti-activist restrictions. She worked as a hostess in a historic black college’s inn.
She started working for John Conyers’ congressional office in Detroit as a secretary and receptionist in 1965. John Conyers was an African-American member of the United States Congress. She was in charge of the role for over 23 years.
She re-associated herself with civil rights and educational activities in the 1980s. She co-founded the ‘Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation’ for college-bound high school seniors with the little money she had.
In 1987, she and Elaine Eason Steele co-founded the “Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development.” It was established with the goal of exposing young people to significant civil rights and Underground Railroad locations.
Parks’ autobiography, ‘Rosa Parks: My Story,’ was published in 1992 and recounts the events leading up to her refusal to give up her bus seat. ‘Quiet Strength,’ her book, was released a few years later.
Major Projects of Rosa Parks
In 1955, Parks’ decision not to give up her bus seat was a defining moment in her life. The ‘Civil Rights Movement’ would have been postponed if she hadn’t fought against societal injustices that day.
Achievements & Awards
Parks received numerous awards for her contributions to the “Civil Rights Movement,” including the “Spingarn Medal,” the “Martin Luther King Jr. Award,” the “Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award,” the “Presidential Medal of Freedom,” the “Congressional Gold Medal,” and the “Windsor–Detroit International Freedom Festival Freedom Award.”
Personal History and Legacy
In 1932, Parks married Raymond, a barber from Montgomery. He was a member of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). He was married to her until 1977, when he died of throat cancer. They didn’t have any kids.
Parks and her husband had stomach ulcers for a long time. Her spouse, brother, and mother were all given cancer diagnoses. She had to look after them, and by the end of the 1970s, they had all died.
Parks died in 2005 in Detroit. She was the first woman and the second black person whose body was taken to Washington, D.C. and laid in the rotunda of the United States Capitol.
Estimated Net Worth
Rosa is one of the wealthiest civil rights leaders and one of the most well-known. Rosa Parks’ net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
In Missouri, the ‘Rosa Parks Highway’ is named after her.
Parks was not a wealthy woman, and she subsisted on her pay.
She was a character in the TV show ‘Touched by an Angel.’
She couldn’t afford to pay the rent on her Detroit apartment. However, executives of the owning firm announced in 2002 that she may live there for free for the rest of her life due of her image and reputation.
In 1994, a black drug addict stormed into her home, stole her belongings, and assaulted her.