On this day 55 years ago, Rosa Louise McCauley Parks violated a Montgomery, Alabama, city ordinance requiring black people to ride in the “colored” section of a public bus. Parks, 42, was actually sitting in the designated section, but because the bus was full, the bus driver demanded she and three other riders give up their seats to whites. When she refused, the driver, James F. Blake, had her arrested. Her act of civil disobedience led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which ultimately succeeded in a court ruling desegregating public transportation in Montgomery and sparked the nationwide civil rights movement. Almost 10 years later in 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, which ended racial segregation and guaranteed full access to all public facilities throughout the United States.
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