Monday, February 4, 2013

100th Anniversary of Rosa Parks' Birth

Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley on February 4, 1913. She is best known for being an African-American civil rights activist, whom the United States Congress called "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement".

On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, she refused to obey the bus driver (James Blake) when he ordered her to give up her seat in the “colored section” to a white passenger, after the white section was filled.

Ms Parks was not the first person to defy bus segregation. There were many others who came before her, including Irene Morgan in 1944, when she refused to give up her seat on an interstate Greyhound bus to a white person.

The 27-year-old Baltimore-born African-American woman was arrested and jailed in Middlesex County, Virginia, but not before she tore up the arrest warrant and kicked the sheriff in the groin. Ms Morgan appealed her conviction on constitutional grounds all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

Her case (Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia) was argued by William H. Hastie, the former governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands and later a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. His co-counsel was Thurgood Marshall, later an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The 6-1 landmark ruling in 1946, found that the state of Virginia's law enforcing segregation on interstate buses was illegal.

As for Ms Parks, though at first she suffered greatly for her defiance, in her later years she received numerous honors and international recognition, including the NAACP's 1979 Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and a posthumous statue in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol.

Upon her death on October 24, 2005, she was the first woman and second non-U.S. government official to lie in honor at the United States Capitol Rotunda.

Today, the U.S. Postal Service issued the following stamp in her honor:

1 comment:

Stickup Artist said...

She certainly deserves it. It's hard to believe that as late as 1955, the oppression was still so blatant and commonplace. But, it also kind of makes me think that we ARE capable of change for the better. (Well, most of us at least).