Black American Icons: Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was an activist and trailblazer who played an extraordinary role in the civil rights movement in the United States.  On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. At the time, Parks worked as a seamstress at a local department store and was secretary for the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP.  When she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger, her defiance sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, one of the largest social movements in history. Its success launched nationwide efforts to end racial segregation of public facilities. After the monumental ride and all that followed, Rosa became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.  She collaborated and organized with civil rights leaders, including Edgar Nixon and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Not long after the boycott, Rosa moved to Detroit where she continued her activism and served as secretary and receptionist to African American U.S. Representative, John Conyers. She also supported the Black Power movement and worked on behalf of political prisoners.  Rosa Parks was highly recognized for her work and received the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal.  She wrote about her life story and activism in an autobiography titled, Rosa Parks: My Story. When she passed away in 2005, the iconic activist was the first woman to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol.  Several states, including California and Missouri, have designated Rosa Parks Day in her honor, celebrated every year on her birthday, February 4th.