Remembering the lady who kept her bus seat

December 2, 2010

It has been fifty-five years since Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus — “an act that challenged the moral conscience of an entire nation,” said President Obama Dec. 1 in honoring her legacy

Most historians date the beginning of the modern civil rights movement in the United States to Rosa Park’s act of courage on Dec. 1, 1955.

The Montgomery bus boycott lasted 382 days and brought Parks to the attention of the world. The Supreme Court subsequently struck down the Montgomery ordinance under which Parks had been fined, and outlawed racial segregation on public transportation.

Obama said the Montgomery bus boycott “marked a turning point in American history … and the eventual outlawing of racial segregation and discrimination. 

“Rosa Parks and the many other leaders and foot soldiers in that struggle for justice championed our founding principles of freedom and equality for all, and today, as we commemorate the anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, I encourage all Americans to honor their legacy — the legacy of Americans who marched bravely, worked tirelessly, and devoted their lives to the never-ending task of making our country a more perfect union,” said Obama.   

In 1996, President Clinton presented Parks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She received a Congressional Gold Medal in 1999.

After her death in 2005, at age 92, Parks’ casket was placed in the rotunda of the United States Capitol for two days — making her the only the only woman and second African-American in American history to lie in state at the Capitol.