Rosa Parks is a fondly-remembered civil rights activist that is perhaps best known for refusing to yield her seat on a bus in 1955. But there’s much more to her story than just that one moment… So in honor of this inspirational woman, let’s discuss some facts about Rosa Parks!
1. She Was Raised By Her Grandparents
Due to her father leaving to find work when she was just a toddler and her mother having to teach in a different town, Rosa Parks was raised in her grandparent’s small home in Alabama alongside her brother Sylvester.
2. She Had A High School Diploma
Although she was initially forced to drop out of school in order to work in a shirt factory so that she could support herself and her aging grandmother, her future husband would later support her in going back to get her high school diploma in 1933.
This would make her part of the less than 7% of African Americans that received their diploma at that time.
3. She’d Been A Civil Rights Activist Since 1943
Twelve years before she took that iconic stand on the bus in 1955, Rosa Parks joined the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). And she was an extremely active participant.
In 1954, she attended a workshop at Tennessee’s Highlander Folk School that covered topics like social and economic justice. And by her arrest, she had worked her way to becoming a secretary of the local NAACP chapter.
4. She Had Met Her 1955 Bus Driver Before
The day that Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus was actually the second time she had run across that specific bus driver. His name was James Blake and he was rude and racist towards her on a previous bus ride, so she actually made it a point to avoid him.
She stated in her autobiography that if she would’ve noticed that he was driving the bus on December 1, 1955, then she wouldn’t have even entered.
5. Her Feet Were Not Tired During That Fateful Day
A common misconception about Rosa Parks’ act of civil disobedience is that she refused to leave her bus seat simply because her feet were tired from work that day. But this is untrue! In fact, she has a quote in regards to the incident that states “The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
6. Her Arrest Wasn’t The Only Serious Repercussion She Faced From Taking A Stand
One of the sadder Rosa Parks facts is the treatment she faced after her arrest. She lost her job soon after, because of the incident. And her husband quit his job after he was told that he was no longer allowed to talk about his wife and her activities at work.
But perhaps worst of all, is that she was harassed with threatening phone calls and even death threats! Because of all this, she ended up moving to Detroit with her husband soon after.
7. Despite These Hardships, She Continued On With Her Activism
Rosa Parks wasn’t the type of lady to let these things stop her though, and she continued with her fight for civil rights until the end! Including fighting against segregation in South Africa.
She even opened a youth center in Detroit that taught young African Americans about potential job opportunities in order to advance their careers.
8. She Never Had Children
Despite her and her husband’s happy marriage, the two never ended up having kids. Which was a unique decision during the era they lived. But they preferred to focus on their careers and activism, as well as of course, their marriage.!
9. Civil Rights Wasn’t The Only Type Of Activism She Was Involved In
In addition to her civil rights activism, Rosa Parks was also vocal about her belief in Planned Parenthood. During the 1980s, she was even part of the Board of Advocates for Planned Parenthood of America.
10. She Was The Recipient Of An Important Award In 1999
In 199, Rosa Parks was given a Congressional Gold Medal by (then President) Bill Clinton. This medal is the highest honor for civilians in the US, so this was yet another impressive milestone for Rosa Parks.
11. After Her Death, She Became The First Woman To Lie In Honor At The Capitol
Sadly, Rosa Parks passed away on October 24th in 2005. But she became the first woman to ever lie in honor at the US Capitol, and over 30,000 came to pay their respects to this trailblazing historical figure.
12. A Few Months Later, She Was Paid One Final Honor
A few months after Parks’ passing, on the anniversary of her biggest stand for civil rights, people honored her officially for the last time by intentionally leaving the bus seats behind the driver empty in major US cities such as NYC and Washington DC.