US civil-rights activist. Her refusal to surrender her seat on a bus to a white passenger and her subsequent arrest and imprisonment spurred the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, which ignited the civil-rights movement in the USA.
Most early portrayals depict her as merely a poor, tired seamstress who, on the spur of the moment, refused to surrender her seat on a bus to a white passenger. In fact, she had long been a community activist and had also been involved in previous incidents when refusing to leave a bus seat. By forcing the police to remove, arrest, and imprison her on this occasion, and then agreeing to become a test case of segregation ordinances, she played a deliberate role in instigating the Montgomery bus boycott (1955–56). She earned recognition as the ‘midwife’ or ‘mother’ of the civil-rights revolution, and in June 1999 the US Congress awarded her the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the country.
Parks was born in Tuskagee, Alabama. After briefly attending Alabama State University, she married and settled in Montgomery, Alabama, where by 1955 she was working as a tailor's assistant in a department store. She also served as secretary of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She was fired from her job at the department store for her role in the Montgomery bus boycott and in 1957 she became a youth worker in Detroit, Michigan. She was a staff member of Michigan Democrat member of Congress John Conyers, Jr, (1965–88). Her autobiography, Rosa Parks: My Story, was published in 1992. In December 2000, she attended the opening ceremony of the Rosa Parks Library and Museum in Montgomery.
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