“I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was 42. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in." - Rosa Parks
On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks rejected bus driver James F. Blake's order to relinquish her seat in the "colored section" to a white passenger, after the whites-only section was filled. Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation, but the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) believed that she was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience in violating Alabama segregation laws
Her bravery led to nationwide efforts to end racial segregation. Parks was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr.Award by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Although she had become a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement, Parks suffered hardship in the months following her arrest in Montgomery and the subsequent boycott. She lost her department store job and her husband was fired after his boss forbade him to talk about his wife or their legal case.
Unable to find work, they eventually left Montgomery and moved to Detroit, Michigan along with Parks' mother. There, Parks made a new life for herself, working as a secretary and receptionist in U.S. Representative John Conyer's congressional office. She also served on the board of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Parks received many accolades during her lifetime, including the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP's highest award, and the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Award.
On September 15, 1996, President Bill Clinton awarded Parks the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given by the United States' executive branch. The following year, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award given by the U.S. legislative branch.
TIME magazine named Parks on its 1999 list of "The 20 Most Influential People of the 20th Century.”
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