Today in history: 5 intriguing facts about Rosa Parks


Photo by U. S. Library of Congress

Rosa Parks became famous for her refusal to move from her seat for a white passenger, Dec. 1, 1955. This photo was taken at a later time.

When asked who Rosa Parks is, many of us would answer with “Oh yeah, she’s that African-American lady who wouldn’t get off the bus.” But, there is more to the story than we know, so many little details about how she shook the world by simply standing up for her rights.

On this date in 1955, Parks was arrested for disobeying the law in Alabama. This law required that when a bus became full, African-Americans were to give up their seats for white passengers, and the African-Americans had to sit in the back of the bus.

But in interviews since then, Parks said that she was tired and just did not feel like moving that day, arguing that the bus driver had moved the line that segregated the white and Black sections of bus. She stood her ground and became known as “the Mother of Civil Rights.”

To commemorate Rosa Parks Day, here are five intriguing facts about the woman who took a seat for justice.

1. Parks wasn’t the first African-American female to be arrested for not moving seats. Claudette Colvin (15), was the first to refuse to move for a white passenger, nine months before Parks also resisted. Parks assisted Colvin by helping to raise defense funds for her.

2. Parks was sitting in the African-American seats. She was sitting in the first row of the middle section on the bus, where African-Americans where permitted to sit as long as the bus was nearly empty. But, after so many stops the bus became filled, and a white passenger was left to stand. Parks and three others were asked to move by the bus driver. The others did as they were told but Parks stayed sitting.

3. Parks was fined $10 plus $4 for court costs. Parks was found guilty of disorderly conduct during her 30-minute trial.

4. Parks had to move from her home in Montgomery after the boycott. She moved to Detroit in 1957 after she was let go from her job, and her husband quit when told that he wasn’t allowed to talk about the boycott or his wife. They also began to receive threatening phone calls and even death threats. When they moved to Detroit she eventually got a job working as an administrative aid for Congressman John Conyers, Jr. She lived the rest of her life in Detroit.

5. Parks was the first woman to have her body laid in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C.  On October 24, 2005 Parks passed away at the age of 92. She was commemorated with a tribute that was normally for military leaders or statesman. Over 30,000 people came to pay their respects to the woman who helped shape the world.