Today in History: Rosa Parks is arrested

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Today in History for December 1st


60 years ago today, African American woman Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her bus seat to a white man in Tuskegee, Alabama, knowingly violating her city's racial segregation laws.

What happened next was the catalyst for one of the biggest boycotts of the entire Civil Rights movement.

Parks sat down on the bus on Dec. 1, 1955, not knowing she would soon be known as "The Mother of the Civil Rights Movement."

SEE ALSO: Obama: Women made civil rights movement happen

Parks was born and raised in Tuskegee in 1913. While working as a seamstress in 1943, the woman joined the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Due to segregation laws, African Americans were required to not only sit in the back of the bus, but also to give up their seats to white passengers if the bus filled up.

Unlike the popular legend, Parks' refusal to relinquish her seat to a white man was not as spontaneous as most believe. Parks knew that civil rights leaders had been discussing ways to challenge the Montgomery's racist laws for months now and took advantage of the moment at hand.

See photos of Rosa Parks' arrest:

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Rosa Parks and Civil Rights Movement
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Today in History: Rosa Parks is arrested
Portrait of Rosa Parks, who organized the boycott of buses in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, 20th century, United States, New York, Schomburg Center. (Photo by Photo12/UIG/Getty Images)
Rosa Parks seated toward the front of the bus, Montgomery, Alabama, 1956. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (1913-2005), American Civil Rights activist. Booking photo taken at the time of her arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a white passenger on 1 December 1955. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)
Rosa Parks is fingerprinted by police (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images)
MONTGOMERY, AL - MARCH 25: Rosa Parks speaking at conclusion of 1965 Selma to Mongomery Civil Rights March; Rev. Ralph Abernathy on left. On March 25, 1965 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein/Getty Images)
At the culmination of the Selma to Montgomery March, American religious and Civil Right leader Martin Luther King Jr (1929 - 1968) (fore right) and Bernard Lee (1935 - 1991) of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee walk at the the head of the march, Montgomery, Alabama, March 25, 1965. Among the activists in the front line of the march are, from fourth left, Bayard Rustin (1912 - 1987) (in profile, leaning to his left), Rosa Parks (1913 - 2005), Ralph Abernathy (1926 - 1990), Ruth Bunche, Ralph Bunche (1903 - 1971), and Coretta Scott King (1927 - 2006). At the end of the march, King delivered his 'How Long? Not Long!' speech. (Photo by Charles Shaw/Getty Images)
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Following a wildly successful first day of protests, Rev. Martin Luther King emerged as a leader for the bus boycotts after sharing a powerful message to the crowd full of African Americans and civil rights activists.



The Montgomery Bus Boycotts lasted for more than a year. With more than 70 percent of its bus ridership missing, the municipal transit system in Montgomery suffered major losses.

It wasn't until Nov. 13, 1956 that the United States Supreme Court ruled that Alabama's and Montgomery's bus segregation laws were in violation of the 14th amendment.

When the boycotts ended the next day, it was Rosa Parks who rode one of the first desegregated buses.

Upon Parks' death in 2005, the government allowed her body to lie in honor at Capitol Rotunda, as a special courtesy to the woman who sparked one of the biggest campaigns of the civil rights movement.

Watch below to learn more about Rosa Parks' legacy:
Rosa Parks - Legacy




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