Rosa Parks Day is celebrated in the U.S. on December 1 to honor Rosa Parks, the brave civil rights activist. Her contributions have been most impactful to the movement, but her most famous incident is her refusal to give up her seat on a bus she was commuting on. Her headstrong persona is an inspiration to all, and the day promotes civil rights, and equal rights and opportunities for all communities across the country. The event is marked by events and activities arranged by organizations, government leaders, and church figures.
History of Rosa Parks Day
Rosa Parks Day celebrates the achievements of the fierce African-American activist known as “The Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” The day is celebrated on December 1 but is also observed on February 4 in some regions. The former date was set by the Legislature of the State of California on the day she refused to move to the back of the bus, and it is also recognized in Missouri. The latter date is the icon’s birthday, declared Rosa Parks Day by Ohio and Oregon.
A legend of the civil rights movement, Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat in 1955 ignited a long boycott that lasted for 381 days, leading to the desegregation of transportation in Montgomery, Alabama. The incident took place on December 1, 1955. While traveling on a Montgomery City bus, Parks was told by the bus driver to vacate her seat for a white man. It was common at the time for such requests to be made. Defying this practice, Parks refused to give up her seat. She was arrested for this and charged with violation of the laws of racial segregation, or the ‘Jim Crow’ laws. Parks countered by challenging the conviction, which led many civil rights activists, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, to boycott the Montgomery transport system.
After 381 days of the boycott, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in December 1956 that the segregation law was not aligned with the constitution. The boycott and its successful outcome triggered other civil rights protests over the years. Parks became the face of the battle against inequality. The bus in which Rosa Parks was sitting has been restored and is currently displayed in the Henry Ford Museum.
Rosa Parks Day timeline
Rosa Louise McCauley is born in Tuskegee, Alabama, to James and Leona McCauley.
The only woman at her first meeting, Parks is made secretary of the group in Montgomery.
Parks becomes the Alabama state secretary of the N.A.A.C.P. (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).
Parks defies a bus driver's order to let a white man take her seat.
The California State Legislature approves a national holiday to honor Rosa Parks, and it is observed for the first time.
Rosa Parks Day FAQs
When did Rosa Parks die?
Rosa Parks died on November 2, 2005, in Detroit, Michigan.
How old was Rosa Parks on the bus?
Rosa Parks was 42 years old when she made history and invigorated the fight against racial injustice.
What did Rosa Parks say on the bus?
Rosa Parks told the Montgomery bus driver, “No.”
What was Rosa Parks’ famous quote?
“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.”
How to Observe Rosa Parks Day
Read about Rosa Parks
Even before the famous bus incident, Rosa Parks had done a ton of activist work, and her achievements are worth reading. Read her autobiography “Rosa Parks: My Story.”
Share her story with others
Rosa Parks' story is inspirational and important today more than ever. Talk with your friends, and share quotes, posts, and pictures of Rosa Parks on social media to keep the remembrance alive.
Learn about the civil rights movement
The civil rights movement has many unsung heroes that don’t get the recognition they deserve. Do some research about the struggle and the contributions of other different figures to the fight for rights.
5 Facts About The Rosa Parks Bus Incident
Rosa Parks wasn’t the first
Parks was not the first African-American woman to be arrested for not giving up her seat on a Montgomery bus.
She had encountered the driver previously
Parks had encountered the bus driver James Blake before the incident.
She wasn’t sitting in a whites-only section
Parks was seated in a section that was open to African Americans if vacant.
Her feet were not tired
In her autobiography, Parks dispelled the notion that she refused to get up from her seat because she was exhausted after work.
She was arrested twice
Weeks after her initial arrest, Parks was jailed for a second time for participating in the boycott.
Why Rosa Parks Day is Important
Lesser-known figures of the Movement
Rosa Parks is well-known but still an almost unsung hero of the civil rights movement. The day celebrates her contributions and also brings other such heroes into the spotlight.
Human rights in modern times
The Rosa Parks story is powerful and topical today more than ever. Unfortunately, we still don't live in a utopian world, and the fight for equal rights is still on.
We love celebrating women. That’s why we think Rosa Parks Day is important.
Rosa Parks Day dates