"Well behaved women seldom make history." – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
By Julie Vaccarelli Toth, Esq.
Rosa Parks was no exception. She was an active participant in the civil rights movement for many years. In 1955, in her most infamous act, she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama to a white man. Alabama law required African American people to give up their seats to white people when the bus was full. Ms. Parks was arrested for her act of defiance and found guilty on December 5, 1955 of violating segregation laws. The court handed down a suspended sentence that included a $10 fine and $4 in court costs.
In hindsight, this may have been the single most effective act for the civil rights movement earning her the name "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement". On November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled bus segregation unconstitutional effectively ending a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system.
Ms. Parks in her own words corrected the narrative that claimed she was tired from working and wanted to rest rather than stand on the bus. She stated "People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically…No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in."
The lesson from Rosa Parks, "stand for something or you will fall for anything."