A Seat To Remember

Open any history book about the Civil Rights Movement and you will see several well- known individuals that are famous for their part in a crusade for freedom. Among these giants in history is Rosa Parks, best known for her defiance of an oppressive law that segregated busing by color in Montgomery and the south.  She is one of the most famous women in our history by one act of civil disobedience, or was it just one act.  During one of the most racial unrest in our country’s history, Rosa Parks took a stand for equality by not giving up her seat on the bus. This seat wasn’t just any seat, it was her seat, bought and paid for.  Perception of what truly took place on that fateful evening December 01, 1955, has been discussed in classrooms, in coffee shops, around Sunday dinners, and countless other settings over time.  Although some vary on their perception of Mrs. Parks and her true intent, what did transpire from her rebellious act was a revolution.  What can be said is that Mrs. Parks had reached her limit on that particular evening, a fact that has not been debated, but what has been discussed is whether or not her involvement was intentional.

Rosa Parks had been very aware of the racial violence in Montgomery, Alabama. In fact, she and her husband Raymond were very active in their local chapter of the NAACP, with Rosa serving as the secretary from 1943 to 1956.   We should not assume her fatigue as being the sole reason for her refusal to give up her seat, because her role was so much more.  To have the courage to protest against a culture is not a choice one makes easily, but there are situations and times where protest is the only way to move forward.  We have been granted certain rights to create amendments to the Constitution because the foundation of the laws may change over time as our society changes.

When speaking of discrimination against a race of humans, the hatred that predicated the culture must be eradicated. This type of cultural overhaul would have and could have only been done through civil disobedience because these were laws in the segregated south were barbaric, inhumane and were enforced judiciously.  A revolution was the only way to wake our society up and actually inform the rest of the country of the horrors that happened everywhere but to a much deeper extent in the south.  Protesting is our Right under the 1st Amendment for a reason, we must understand that we can and should exercise this Right when inhumane treatment is being enforced on a sector of humans for reasons of race, gender, religion, and any other factor that differs from White America.

There are a few reasons in our history that may provide an understanding as to why some may diminish Mrs. Park’s role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  One is the misconception that she was just simply too tired to give up her seat that night.   Another possible reason is that she was not the first African American to refuse to give up a seat on the bus.  In fact, there were two other women before her in Montgomery.  In March of 1955, Claudette Colvin, who was 15 at the time, was also arrested for refusing to give up her seat as well as Mary Louise Smith, 18, who was arrested as well for refusal to comply in April 1955.  These young women were too young and had some other family factors that ultimately led to Rosa Park’s arrest as the face and voice for the bus boycott.  It was all of these brave individuals who should be remembered and honored for bringing about change in our country’s history and creating an awareness that we are all humans and color should play no part in our laws.

Reference (along with textbook and article provided)

Carson, C./ Lapsansky-Werner, E./ Nash, G. The Struggle for Freedom: A History of African Americans; Volume II.  Since 1865. (434-437).  The Montgomery Bus Boycott and The Southern Christian Leadership Conference. 2007.



9 thoughts on “A Seat To Remember

  1. I also wondered why Rosa Parks was chosen rather than the other two “women”, who were actually teenagers and possibly too young and inexperienced to carry the weight all of the proceeding events. My best guess would be, because Mrs. Parks was much older and had more experience as a civil rights activist. She was an active member of the NAACP, with a commitment to fight for civil justice and equality. Her position required fortitude and tenacity. Someone younger might have broken down and given up. Mrs. Parks, on the other hand, stayed the course. She had much more training and support on her side.

    1. I image that played a role in it. Also it’s worth considering that the other two were minors and thus likely not subjected to the full extent of the law. A teen who got a slap on the wrist for not giving up their seat for a white man doesn’t seem to have the same weight as someone who was jailed for it. Though to be sure, her strength of character and her convictions probably played a role in it as well,.

  2. I too believe that it was due to their age and some family factors that ultimately led the decision to select Rosa as the spokesperson. In any case all three women were so strong and with all three of them being arrested the statistics were not in their favor to come out of the arrest unharmed. So to make the decision to stand up for equality is an act like no other.

    1. Yes, they were all strong but how much that Rosa did after the fact as well and the amount of organizations she supported were huge factors, and those things may of played a part in why she is most remembered for her actions.

    2. I agree, to stand up for equality and the fair treatment of others by sacrificing yourself is nothing short of heroism. I find it interesting that Rosa Parks has said she felt as thought the segregated bus system was one of the first things that prompted her to notice the two separate worlds black and white citizens were living in. The racism they were subjected to from early adolescence on is just sickening, and I wonder how proud Rosa must have felt to make a difference using one of the very first systems of institutional racism she experienced.

  3. I was impressed with how organized the black community was in instituting a bus boycott. To print 30,000 flyers and have over 200 volunteers distribute these flyers took a group that was not only well organized, but also prepared for this type of action. To continue this boycott for almost a year was a significant accomplishment. I related the miles many of the African American women walked to and from work each day to me walking to school each day and I could not imagine walking to school for a year.

  4. The MIA or Montgomery Improvement Association was formed to coordinate the boycott movement. It was lead by Martin Luther King Jr. His speech was so powerful and impressive that it encouraged the boycott to continue until the MIA’s demands were met. It goes to show how powerful one woman’s actions could be. Refusing to move seats and standing up for her rights that day led to a whole association dedicated to supporting and fighting for the cause.

  5. I truly believed each and every one of those brave women should be recognized; however, it is undeniable that Rosa Parks made an everlasting mark in history. Speaking hypothetical, even if she was too tired to get up from her seat; isn’t her right to enjoy a break from being on her feet. If she just worked her butt off at work, paid her fare; that seat was hers. And for the first time Rosa Parks was not giving it up. I think that it was great that she was coming from work, because her tolerance for racial discrimination was short. Maybe if she was well rested, she would of happily stood…. not what would that have done for the Civil Rights Movement. The central focus is she stood up, that’s what should be important.

  6. Good post, it takes very strong individuals to take a stand like these women did. Sacrificing your life for your people is not something a lot of people are willing would to do and that’s why I have major respect for people like Rosa Parks.

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