December 1, 1955 – Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus

December 1, 1955 – Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus

Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to relinquish her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama — an act that is in direct violation of a city ordinance requiring black people to ride in the rear of the bus.

Three days after the incident, she was found guilty and ordered to pay a $10 fine, plus an additional $4 in court costs.

Parks, 42, worked for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), but had no record of civil rights protests before the incident on the bus. In fact, since she had followed the generally accepted procedure, she wasn’t even aware that she had violated the law.

Parks was actually sitting in the first row that had been assigned to black people in the rear of the vehicle, but because the front of the bus was full, the driver demanded that she give her seat to a white rider. Parks’ refusal to give up her seat, and the controversy that ensued, resulted in a local boycott of the Montgomery bus system.

In February 1956, Parks and 100 others were arrested for the boycott. In spite of this obstacle, the protest lasted more than a year, until the Supreme Court ruled that the Montgomery ordinance was unconstitutional.

On December 21, 1956, Parks was able to ride in the front of the bus. More important, however, Parks’ act of civil disobedience inspired a nationwide civil rights movement that would last almost a decade.

In 1964, protesters were victorious when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, which guaranteed full access to all public facilities throughout the nation.