The history of civil rights movements in the United States is never complete without the mention of Rosa Parks, a human rights activist who lived between 1913 and 2005. She had the courage to fight for what the considered to be right and fiercely fought foe her beliefs. She was never satisfied with the manner in which black people were treated and believed that there was every need for American laws to be amended in order to recognize black-Americans. Although it was tough for Rosa, she claimed victory and named the mother of Civil Rights Movements.
The question many people ask is where her courage, inspiration and total conviction of winning came from. Her childhood experience must have influenced her to become an icon of change. This paper explores Rosa’s childhood through her fight for equality in the United until her demise in 2005 when she was honored by state by allowing her casket to spend two days at rotunda in the capitol, an honor usually reserved for U.S Presidents (Levine, 2005). Rosa McCauley was born on February 4, 1913 in Alabama as a first born child to James and Leona. Her brother was born in 1915.
The family later relocated from Tuskegee to Level where Rosa was raised up and educated. She completed her schooling at the age of eleven before her mother enrolled her in a public institution, Montgomery Industrial School for Girls. After completing her studies at the institution, Rosa joined Alabama State Teachers’ College where she failed to graduate with her classmates after her grandmother suffered some illness that led to her death (Levine, 2005). Rosa found it had to go back tocollege and complete her studies. Just before she resumed her studies, Rosa’s mother fell sick causing Rosa to spend time at home and take care of her.
She therefore put her study program on hold, receiving her diploma in December 1934 after her marriage to Raymond Parks two years earlier. Raymond had no college education despite the fact that he was mistaken to have high education. This was because of her knowledge concerning current events and domestic affairs. He however strongly encouraged Rosa to complete her college education. Rosa became an activist in early ‘30s and fully participated in a celebrated case “Scottsboro Boys”.
Rosa and her husband served in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP’s) program (Kishel, 2006). As an active and vibrant member, Rosa rose to serve in various capacities as the secretary before later becoming the leader of young people in a local area office.Rosa peak life was realized during the time of segregation and racial discrimination in the United States. Existing laws never recognized black-Americans to be as equal as the whites. This was so serious that even travelling buses were partitioned to prevent the mixing of blacks with white people. Rosa was tired with these rules and in 1955; her volcanic passion to end segregation erupted in a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
Although all the seats were divided for white and black people, Rosa occupied a white man’s seat and completely refused to relinquish her seat when all white reserved seats where occupied. This was considered as disobedience leading to the immediate police arrest of Rosa Parks (Kishel, 2006).. The arrest of Rosa sparked protest in many parts of the country as courageous people demanded equality among human beings. The protest led to a boycott of the bus line which lasted for 381 days with Martin Luther King Jr. being appointed as the spokesman of the Bus Protest.
Mrs. Parks worked on very many cases with NAACP but received no attention. These cases included but not limited to rape, murder, flogging and peonage. Despite constant failure of the cases, Rosa did not give up. She believed that all these efforts were to late everyone know that Black people were never happy being refereed to as second class citizens.
Rosa’s bus incident which led to the Bus boycott and protests resulted into a turn of events. It drew the attention of the world forcing the Supreme Court which outlawed racial discrimination in public transport. She continued being an activist even after the death of Raymond in 1977. She founded Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development.
This movement promotes equality through teaching of history of America and Civil Rights Movement. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the former U.S president, Bill Clinton in 1996 and a Congressional Gold Medal in 1999. In addition to this, Rosa received forty-three honorary doctorate degrees from different universities including one from SOKA in Japan (Kishel, 2006). During her retirement life, she still believed that there was a lot to be done in gaining total happiness. There were elements of racism and Klan activities.
She died in Detroit in 2005 at the age of 92 and honored when her casket spent two days in the rotunda, reserved for U.S. presidents alone.