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Rosa Parks: The mother of the civil rights movement

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On December 1, 1955, a seamstress named Rosa Parks boarded a bus at 6 p.m. in Montgomery, Alabama, and sat in the “colored” section. Several stops later, she refused to give up her seat to a white man. She was arrested and convicted for violating state and local segregation laws.

At the time, reports claimed that Parks didn’t give up her seat because she was tired. She said in her autobiography that was not the case. “I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was 42. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

Her act of courage triggered the Montgomery bus boycott by 17,000 Black citizens, which ended a year later when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ruling declaring racially segregated buses unconstitutional.

Parks was best known for her role in the bus boycott, but she was active in the civil rights movement for many years before this event. Parks supported Black voting rights and hosted meetings to motivate citizens to register to vote despite many obstacles.

Parks tried three times to register to vote in the 1940s. At the time, African Americans had to pass a literacy test in order to register. Parks took the test and was told she passed, but she never received her voting card in the mail. When she came back to take the test a second time, officials told her she failed but denied her request to see her results. In 1945, Parks went back a third time. This time she stayed and copied all of the test questions and her answers, so she had proof that she passed. Parks received her voting card in the mail.

Adventist Health is celebrating Black History Month by highlighting the significant roles that African-Americans have played in shaping U.S. history. This week, we honor Rosa Parks for her role in the Montgomery bus boycott and her fight for voting rights.