8 Major Achievements of Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks (1913-2005) was an outstanding American woman of African descent, who played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement. Parks was notable for standing firm against a divisive and discriminatory bus seat policy in Montgomery, Alabama. She has been famously described as the mother of the civil rights movement in America.
Here are 8 major achievements of Rosa Parks:
Rosa Parks’ Bus Seat Protest and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
In the early 1900s, the city of Montgomery had enacted a discriminatory law (known as the Jim Crows Law), which segregated seats on buses. With this system, black passengers on buses had their seats separated from their white counterparts. Colored passengers usually occupied the rear section of buses. In 1955, when a Montgomery bus ran out of seats for white people, Rosa Parks was asked to vacate her seat for a white passenger. However, Parks stood her grounds and disobeyed the instruction, leading to confrontation which ultimately saw her get arrested. With the help of E. D. Nixton and Martin Luther King Jr., blacks protested the discrimination by boycotting public transport in Montgomery.
After a year elapsed, the consequences of the mass bus boycott became untold. This led to a reversal of the segregation laws in Montgomery. Rosa Parks and Luther King Jr became instant heroes. Her bold refusal to obey discriminatory laws marked a major turning point for blacks to rise up and call for change.
Stood By a Rape Victim (Recy Taylor)
In 1944, Recy Taylor (a black American woman), was sexually abused by 6 white guys when she closed from a church service. At that time, Rosa Parks was a secretary of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). She stepped in to Recy Taylor’s case by thoroughly investigating the incidence. She co-formed a committee to create awareness and seek support for Recy Taylor.
A black civil rights movement from across the nation thronged to seek justice for Recy Taylor. When the 6 rapists pleaded guilty to the offence, racial biases still found its way to corrupt the judges. The offenders were allowed by the white juries to walk away scot-free. Despite the injustice, Rosa Parks won reputation for her attempt to bring the perpetrators to book.
Defended the Scottsboro Teenagers
The activist life of Rosa Parks started as early as 1930. In 1931, false claims of rape were reported by 2 white ladies. 9 black teenagers were accused of sexually assaulting the two white ladies in a train. With support from her husband and other concerned activists, Rosa Parks successfully raised funds to cater for the legal defense of the 9 Scottsboro teenagers. When medical examinations were conducted to ascertain the rape allegation, it yielded no evidence of sexual assault.
Despite that fact, the court displayed its utmost misjudgment; it unfairly sentenced two guys to prison. History recorded the Scottsboro boys’ case as a dark day of legal injustice. Putting that aside, the Scottsboro case inspired Rosa Parks to continue to press against discrimination.
Recipient of Several Distinguished Awards and Honors
Throughout her lifetime, Rosa Parks was given a lot of awards and honors in recognition of her unwavering support to the cause of the civil rights movement. As secretary of the NAACP, she was given the Spingarn Medal. The Spingarn Medal was the highest accolade given by the NAACP.
In 1966, ex-president Clinton presented Rosa Parks with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. This medal is the greatest honor that can ever be given by the executive arm of the U.S government. A year later, in 1967, the legislative body of government (Congress), awarded Parks with a “Congressional Gold Medal”. In 1999, Parks’ name was listed by TIME magazine as one of the greatest civil and social activists of the 20th century.
Founded the Parks Institute for Self-development
Rosa Parks lost her husband (Raymond) in 1977. Following her husband’s demise, she created the “Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute for Self-development”. Her institute sponsored a summer trip for teenagers to move round the country with adults, and learn about the rich history of the U.S civil rights movement. The tour gave an opportunity for several youngsters to know and appreciate the struggles endured by activists in order to get a more reformed American society. Rosa Parks also funded a scholarship program for high school leavers to proceed to the university.
Induction into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame
After the bus boycott led to a ban on segregated systems in Montgomery, Rosa Parks and her husband lost their jobs. Parks relocated and settled in Detroit in 1957. She continued with her activism. While fighting for racial equality, she also pushed for gender equality for women. Parks became a member of a women’s group- Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). The aim of the group was to empower women across the globe to stand strong in the face of oppression, and bring peace. Parks rose to become one of their vice presidents. In 1983, based on Rosa Parks’ great achievements in the civil rights movement, she got inducted into the “Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame”.
Rosa Parks was secretary to a Michigan Congressman
Rosa Parks became the personal Secretary of a high-profile U.S politician (a congressman by name John Conyers). She worked in that office for approximately 20 years (from 1965 to 1988) until her retirement . While in that high office, Rosa Parks dealt with welfare issues, discrimination in the employment sector, as well as education and housing. She intensified her activism and focused on police misconduct, freeing black prisoners and promoting African history.
Rosa Parks’ Autobiography
Rosa Parks authored two notable books. Her first book was “My Story” (1992) and her last one was “Quiet Strength” (1995). Her first book looked deeply into the chain of circumstances that led her to stand firm and refuse giving up her bus seat. “Quiet Strength” talks about the faith and resolve of Rosa Parks.
Rosa Parks peacefully took her last breath on 24th October 2005. She was 92 years old. Mr. and Mrs. Parks had no biological children. Her funeral casket was flown to Montgomery and Washington D.C., where she was honored in the capital before being flown back to Detroit, Michigan to be buried close to her husband.