Rosa Parks, the black woman whose 1955 arrest for refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man served as a catalyst for the U.S. civil-rights movement, died today. She was 92.
Parks died of natural causes at her home, the Associated Press reported, citing Karen Morgan, a spokeswoman for U.S. Representative John Conyers of Michigan, who was Parks' former employer.
Often referred to as the mother of the civil-rights movement, Parks' act of nonviolent civil disobedience sparked the 380-day Montgomery Bus Boycott and a mobilization of groups throughout the South to protest segregation, register blacks to vote and fight for political and civil rights. The boycott brought national attention to the movement and made the then little-known Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. one of its leaders.
"Rosa Parks made a courageous decision and started the civil rights movement. Dr. King took it from there," Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said before her death.
Parks wasn't the first person arrested for violating bus - segregation ordinances in Montgomery, Alabama. Local civil- rights activists and church leaders chose her as a test case because of her impeccable reputation and respect in the black community, reports Bloomberg.
Rosa Parks, who worked for the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the NAACP, continued to assert that she had not intended to provoke her arrest.
"I had only intended to go home and take care of whatever matters I had because I had an NAACP youth conference that weekend and I also was getting out the notices for the senior branch of the NAACP (convention). I didn't move because I didn't feel like it was helping us or making things lighter [easier] for us me as an individual and us as a people to continue to be pushed around because of our race and colorMrs. Parks said.
Her arrest for violating the city segregation law was the catalyst for a mass boycott by blacks of the city's buses, whose ridership had been 70 percent black.
That boycott brought the young minister Martin Luther King, Junior, to national prominence as the head of the Montgomery Improvement Association, the group that organized and led the protest. The Montgomery Improvement Association also filed a federal suit challenging the constitutionality of the segregation law on February first, 1956. The boycott continued 382 days, until December 20, 1956, when the United States Supreme Court ordered city officials to desegregate their buses, informs VOA.
Photo: the AP P.T.