Rosa ParksGeorgia Public Broadcasting
Rosa Louise McCauley was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1913. She attended her first meeting of the Montgomery National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1943 and was elected as its secretary during that meeting.
In 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a segregated bus and refused to give up her seat to a white patron. Her subsequent arrest triggered a nearly year-long boycott of the city bus system, which resulted in the United States Supreme Court striking down the constitutionality of Montgomery's segregated bus laws.
Rosa Parks BusGeorgia Public Broadcasting
What Started the Civil Rights Movement?Georgia Public Broadcasting
Bus Diagram Labeled With Seat of Rosa ParksGeorgia Public Broadcasting
In Montgomery, Alabama, the first ten seats on a public bus were reserved for white passengers only. As the diagram clearly shows, Rosa Parks was seated just behind those seats.
However, as more patrons came onto the bus that day, Parks was instructed by the bus driver to relinquish her seat for a white passenger. She refused, arguing that her seat was not reserved for white customers.
The Paperwork of Resistance
For refusing to give up her bus seat to a white patron, Rosa Parks was arrested and put in jail. Here she is fingerprinted by Deputy Sheriff D. H. Lackey. She was released that same night on bail raised by fellow civil rights activists.
Rosa Parks Fingerprint CardGeorgia Public Broadcasting
Rosa Parks Police ReportGeorgia Public Broadcasting
The police report notes that Rosa Parks was arrested for "refusing to obey orders of a bus driver." By challenging the racial norms of the city, Parks put herself at great physical risk, and her family was deeply concerned about her safety.
Montgomery Bus Boycott Progress ReportGeorgia Public Broadcasting
Montgomery residents, business owners, and government officials closely watched the bus boycott as it unfolded.
From the Office of the Attorney General within the Department of Justice, the Director of Public Information sent a telegram noting that activists were rejecting transportation and considering even more assertive measures as part of their protest.
The Movement Gathers Pace
Inspired by the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, residents of Albany, Georgia, took to the streets to protest the racially divisive practices of their segregated community. Led by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and members of the community like Slater King and Irene Asbury Wright (pictured), the Albany Movement was officially formed in the winter of 1961. Over the course of a month, hundreds of protesters were jailed, while Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought increasing media attention to the movement's purpose and actions. Although King felt that the Albany Movement was ultimately unsuccessful, he gained useful experience and learned key lessons for the future.
Was the Albany Movement Successful?Georgia Public Broadcasting
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division