Rosa Parks at 100

TIME honors the memory of Rosa Parks on the 100th year anniversary of her birth.

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ROSA PARKS
William Philpott/REUTERS

Civil rights icon Rosa Parks at a ceremony where she was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal, on June 15, 1999.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of civil rights icon Rosa Parks.  On December 1, 1955, a 42 year-old Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, landing her in prison.  The courageous act set in motion the Montgomery bus boycott and is viewed as an impetus to the American civil rights movement.  “The only tired I was, was tired of giving in,” said Parks of her decision.

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. commemorated the death of Rosa Parks in 2005 in  TIME:

With quiet courage and nonnegotiable dignity, Rosa Parks was an activist and a freedom fighter who transformed a nation and confirmed a notion that ordinary people can have an extraordinary effect on the world. In her declining health, I would often visit Mrs. Parks, and once asked her the most basic question: Why did you do it? She said the inspiration for her Dignity Day in 1955 occurred three months prior, when African-American Emmett Till’s murdered and disfigured body was publicly displayed for the world to see. “When I thought about Emmett Till,” she told me, “I could not go to the back of the bus.” Her feet never ached.

Mrs. Parks’ defiance led immediately to a 381-day bus boycott drum majored by a 26-year-old Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.and ultimately to a nine-year march culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forced red states to comply with the Brown v. Board of Education decision rendered a decade earlier. Her righteous indignation literally changed the world. Long before the Internet, the mother of the civil rights movement cast her global net from the long walk to freedom of Nelson Mandela and black South Africans to the temerity of Chinese students who, against tanks at Tiananmen Square, dared to challenge unjust government policies. Mrs. Parks, who died last week at age 92, was never driven by any political agenda, and she was never abrasive. She united us all with peace and perseverance. God bless her soul, and may the light of liberation forever shine.

Rosa Parks-Birthday

David Coates/AP Photo/The Detroit News

The Associated Press has reported that the U.S. Postal Service has issued a special “Rosa Parks Forever” stamp today in her honor.

For those of you with TIME subscriptions, click here to see Rita Dove’s profile of Rosa Parks from 1999.
8 comments
kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back...and the wheels came off the bus.

sunnynash1
sunnynash1

Rosa Parks was a remarkable human being and also a real woman--a woman to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude. Rosa Parks is not simply an icon on a U.S. Postage Stamp, as commemorative as a stamp is, or simply a stone statue. Rosa Parks had feelings, anxieties, disappointments, desires and, yes, dreams for future generations. We owe Rosa Parks our best because that is exactly what she gave us and what The Legacy of Rosa Parks left to us.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

No one in these modern times has as much impact on the world than a woman who refused to give up her seat on the bus.

notsacredh
notsacredh

"On December 1, 1955, a 42 year-old Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, landing her in prison."

.

From the back of the bus to two terms in the White House. The good old days were a horror story for many Americans. I wish she could have lived to see Obama's inaguration.

notsacredh
notsacredh

nfl, the first real brush I had with racism was when I was a senior in high school. My prom date was going to be an African American young lady. When they caught wind of it, they told us that we could go, but not together. I didn't go and was so angry that I refused to have my senior pictures taken. I told them that I was ashamed to go to such a backwoods hick high school. When I was onstage to get my diploma, I whispered to the principal that I'd nailed his daughter. It took two teachers to keep him off of me. Revenge is best served cold.

TyPollard
TyPollard

@sacredh 

My first memory from the world out side of my home was a kindly old white-haired lady "saving" me from drinking out of a "colored" drinking fountain in Montgomery, Alabama. She scared me because she was acting as if I was drinking rat poison. 

AfGuy
AfGuy

@TyPollard @sacredh Groucho Marx got it right: "I refuse to join any organization that would have ME as a member."

notsacredh
notsacredh

The first time I took her home to meet my mom my mom took me aside and asked me "She seems like such a nice girl. What's she doing with you?".  lol. I could always count on her to put things in perspective.