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A CIVIL RIGHTS ICON

 

By Omarr R. Lee

 

Thursday, December 24, 2009.

 

 

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks is commonly considered as the “Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Era.”  Her one simple act of courage still motivates and inspires people today.  Her act of bravery may have resulted in her being arrested, but it also changed the course of America because in those days, white people supposedly had the upper-hand in society.  Parks was born on February 4, 1913, in a small town located in Alabama, USA, and her parents were James and Leona McCauley.  

 

For most of her childhood, she lived with her mother, brother and grandmother, and she didn’t attend public school until the age of eleven.  Her=2 0mother provided her with home schooling, and sometimes while being tutored by her mom, she would see the Ku Klux Klan riding their horses through the town.  Almost every child has a fear while they are growing-up, but sooner or later, the child eventually overcomes that particularly fear, but for Parks, the fear of seeing the Ku Klux Klan lasted all through her childhood.  Sometimes while being taught she would hear the Ku Klux Klan lynching or even brutally beating a fellow-African American for no particular reason, and seeing this as a child was so frightening for her.  

 

She was also afraid that the Klansmen, which is what Ku Klux Klan members where sometimes called, would ride through and set her house on fire because they were generally known for doing this horrific act of violence.  Even through all of these terrible experiences, she stayed strong and kept progressing in life.  In 1932, she married a civil rights activist named Raymond Parks, and they lived in Montg omery, Alabama.  She soon graduated from high school in 1934.

 

The20National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had a chapter in Montgomery, and they both were very active in the chapter.  Later in 1949, she became the Montgomery Branch NAACP Advisor to the Youth Council, and from her previous experience as a child, she was a huge motivator to the youth.  During this time, African-Americans were supposed to always sit in the back of the bus.  So in 1955, after a long day at work, she boarded the bus and took a seat up front, and after repeatedly being asked by a white male to move to the back, she refused to move.  The cops arrested Mrs. Parks for disregarding the order to move, and she spent a short time in jail.  

 

Parks would soon be released from jail, but so many African-Americans and sympathizers felt bad for how P arks was treated, so they all organized a bus boycott in the city.  This boycott lasted for about 381 days in the city of Montgomery, and the good thing is that the bus laws were eventually changed.  In 1956, the Supreme Court declared segregation illegal on public buses.  In so many ways, one simple courageous act by a woman set the tone for the Civil Rights Movement.  

 

During the movement, most blacks were relying on just the courts to gain equality in society, but Parks took another route and stood strong for what she believed.  Parks would soon move to Detroit, Michigan in 1957, and she continued the fight for equal rights for African Americans.  After she moved to Detroit, she worked as a seamstress, and in 1965, she was hired as a secretary for U.S. Representative John Conyers, but she would have to retire in 1988 because of heart problems. 

 

All through her life, she has fought for equal-justice, and in her later years, she has received numerous awards.  In 1996, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President Bill Clinton, who closely admired Parks for all of her accomplishments.  A few years later, she received an award from Time Magazine as one of the 20 most influential figures of the 20th century. 

 

Her story will live forever because many other people wil l read and learn about her encouraging story, and will suddenly feel inspired.  There were a large number of other African-Americans that did a lot during the movement, but her civil disobedience changed the overall focus of the movement.  Parks would later die in 2005, but her everlasting legacy will never die

 

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