Dec 1, 2020, marks the 65th Anniversary of that faithful day in Montgomery, Alabama, when Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her seat to a Caucasian bus rider, as was the law (De-jure) in the South at the time.
Jim Crow was the order of the day. The social divide and stem of racism had been on the rise since the disbandment of Reconstruction in 1877.
The ruling in Plessey v. Ferguson (1896) “The Separate but Equal” doctrine, legally made Americans of African descent second class citizens…….
Forget the Civil War, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, the South had risen again and no one was lining up to call “foul” but those being abused, maimed, lynched and brutalized.
So on December 1, 1955, after a long day working as a seamstress, Rosa Parks boarded her regular bus for home.
As usual it was a fairly full bus. Negroes, by law, paid their fare, then exited the front entrance to enter the back entrance of the bus and the “Colored Section.”
It was common practice (at times) for a Bus to pull off once a fare was paid …leaving a would be passenger beguiled and standing in the rain and surely the exhaust fumes of the bus.
On December 1, Parks wasn’t having it.
Historians recount of the event affirm, Parks paid her fare and walked straight to the Colored Section and took her seat.
The bus filled quickly, under the Jim Crow law, “if the white section was full, white passengers could then go into the Colored Section advise anyone (male or female, senior or youth to give up their seat.”
On December 1, an adult male approached Parks and requested her seat (failure of a Negro) to relinquish their seat would result in a fine and or incarceration.
Parks refused and despite threats from the Bus driver, she would not relent. Officers arrived on the scene, Parks did not budge.
Over the years, it has been suggested Rosa was tired and her feet hurt, thus she refused to give up her seat.
In 1992, while visiting Tucson, AZ, to serve as the honorary Co-chair for the Annual MLK Celebration, hosed by the cities Human Relations Commission,
Rosa set the record straight.
Vibrant and with a twinkle in her eyes despite the years in the struggle for equal rights, Rosa stated,
“The day I was arrested for not giving up my seat on that bus in Montgomery, Alabama, it wasn’t my feet that hurt, but my soul.
“I was thinking of young Emmett Till and How he was brutally killed, murdered, for what? Stated Rosa.
On December 5, 1955, the nation became aware of the young Baptist minister w/ his loquacious gift for framing the moment with his words, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A year long bus boycott followed. The City of Montgomery lost hundreds of thousands of dollars as Negros refused to board City buses.
In the end, the City gave in and publicly affirmed an end to segregation on buses.
Rosa was given a pass and sat in the front of the bus…….proclaiming “the view was much better from the front!