Rosa Louise Parks was an extraordinary African American civil rights activist whose heroic actions sparked the beginning of the monumental civil rights movement within the United States of America.
Rosa Parks firmly stood up for what she believed and it was time for her to show the world who she was and what she believed in. Rosa was born on February 4th, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Every since she was a little girl, her mother knew that God had a special purpose for her. She was raised by her mother because her father was never around. She recalled that he would stay several days and then leave again. She never saw him any more until she was an adult and married (Brinkley 21). She lived with her mother and brother in a small house. Her mother was a school teacher who sometimes traveled out of state to teach in different schools and in black churches. Rosa was also raised in part by her grandparents who lived nearby.
Growing up was hard for Rosa. It is upsetting to think that innocent children lives were in danger, because of the members of the Ku Klux Klan. This was a secret society that originated in southern states. Its purpose was to reassert white supremacy by the means of terrorism. Klan members would parade up and down the streets in front of Rosa's home. They never attacked her family, but she felt the violence of white supremacy at a very young age (Brinkley 25).
Rosa moved to Montgomery, Alabama at the age of eleven and her mom enrolled her at Montgomery Industrial school for girls. All of the teachers at this school were white, while the student body of two hundred and thirty to three hundred were entirely black. However she dropped out of school at the age of sixteen to care for both her grandmother, who died soon after, and then for her ailing mother. She was practically taking care of herself as well as her family, while the pressures of white supremacy, still were in full effect (Encarta 1).
Rosa also grew up under a strict racist law system called the Jim Crow Law. The Jim Crow law system was adopted in 1875. This law was named after a minstrel show character, who was an old, crippled, black slave who embodied a negative stereotype for African Americans. It was the official system of racial segregation that spread across the south after the Civil War. Segregation was the separation of the races in every sphere of life to achieve white supremacy. African Americans and whites were legally separated on streetcars, trains, steamboats, and every other form of public transportation as well as schools, hospitals, restaurants, hotels and even drinking fountains. These laws put "black" and "white" signs on every public facility. These signs historians say were public symbols of and constant reminders of black rejection (Brinkley 32).
In the 1896 Supreme Court case "Plessy V. Ferguson"the court authorized separate but equal facilities for blacks and whites which were in reality were not equal. African Americans throughout the south started organizing pro integration protest rallies which promoted bringing together whites and blacks in society, but these rallies had no effect on society (Brinkley 32).
The Jim Crow trolley demanded blacks enter in the back of the trolley and they had to stay there. Some of the public buses between Tuskegee and Montgomery refused to let "colored people" inside. African Americans had to sit on top of the luggage no matter what the weather was like. Montgomery, which boasted the first electric trolley system in the country, was faced with a boycott in August of 1900. African Americans were urged to walk and not ride in show of solidarity against the cities unfairness to its paying passengers. This boycott lasted five weeks and it cost the trolley operator twenty five percent of its business. Eventually the company ended streetcar segregation in the city in the 1920's, but it was short lived in part because of the Klan's activities. This largely forgotten boycott in...
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