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The Daily Need

Photo: Taking a stand by sitting down

Rosa Parks riding on a Montgomery Area Transit System bus in 1956. Photo: AP

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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    Reunited after the explosions
    An unidentified Boston Marathon runner, center, is reunited with loved ones near Copley Square.
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    Obama boards the Rosa Parks bus
    President Barack Obama sits on the famed Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford Museum.
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    Puppet theater
    After disappointing results in the Mississippi and Alabama primaries this week, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich vowed that his campaign would continue.


  • Tom Parker

    How hard it must have been to take and stay in that seat. She is, without question, an American Hero for whom all Americans can take great pride.

  • Anonymous

    It’s hard to believe that this occurred merely 55 years ago.

  • Precious Den


  • Barbara

    We visited the Civil Rights Museum last year. A similar bus is there and certain seats are wired so if you sit on them a voice orders you to move. I am a white woman from the North, but after the fourth or fifth iteration of the command to get up and relinquish my seat, I felt somewhat intimidated. If I was in no danger at all and the totally harmless situation felt scary, I can’t imagine where she got her courage from.

  • Akaneallan

    You don’t always have to stad up for your rights, sometimes a sit in is just what the doctor ordered. ^_^

  • Eclipsedzeppelin

    I had always heard that Rosa Parks just didn’t want to sit in the colored section at all. I had no idea that she was actually sitting in it and then told to move to make room for whites. That’s amazing.

  • Alex Adams

    Rosa Parks is one of the most courageous women who ever lived in this country. She was a women of small stature and had a quite demeanor. Know that she not only was jailed, but she also faced reprisals from the local residents who did not appreciate her position. Jail, bombing her home, the lost of her and her husband’s jobs were all real possibilities at the time.

  • Dan Brook

    Rosa Parks
    Dan Brook, Political Affairs, May 2007

    She was
    physically small
    socially quiet
    religiously humble
    economically poor
    politically powerless

    She was
    a seamstress
    tired from another work day
    a wife and mother
    trying to go home
    an activist
    prepared to resist
    a human being denied her rights

    She was
    so extraordinary
    because she was
    so ordinary

    She was
    to be sure
    willing to break the law
    willing to suffer
    wiling to make a difference

    She didn’t do
    we couldn’t do
    we cannot do
    we should not do
    to honor who
    she was

    She was
    Rosa Parks

  • Susan

    I only wish I had half her courage.

  • Jordan Grayson

    that’s what I’ve always found the most astounding, EZ! She was sitting there minding her own business, IN the colored section, and some white fool wanted her to move for a white man. First of all, as a southerner, I always thought a white man would rather STAND than sit where a “nigra” (as I was taught to call them) sat. So I was confused, when as a kid, I heard so many stories about the event. In East Texas, “facts” are a swiftly shifting set of circumstances quickly manipulated to make the whites come out looking good. But I never once heard an “explanation” for Rosa Parks. She was just branded an uppity nigra woman who didn’t know her place. That part about her BEING IN her place at the time was kept to rumor status. As an adult, I later found out the truth, and it made me so mad. I was ashamed to be white, regardless of the fact that I was neither there nor a part of things: I was STILL ashamed to be white and talk about it.

  • Anonymous

    So, it would have been 180+ years for this to happen? It’s kinda lame for a nation who has an outstanding constitution.

    -A foreigner