On December 1st, 1955 Rosa Parks, a 43-year-old black seamstress, refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus to a white man. Parks’ refusal to give up her seat is a notable event of the civil rights movement. By not giving up her seat, Rosa Parks violated segregation laws and was subsequently convicted of doing so. The day Rosa Parks was convicted, the Montgomery Bus Boycott began. The boycott would last for an entire year until the Supreme Court ruled bus segregation was unconstitutional in 1956. Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white man is a true example of civil disobedience — the refusal to comply with certain laws or to pay taxes and fines, as a peaceful form of political protest.
Looking through the history of the United States, you see civil disobedience a multitude of times. After all, the United States exists because of a rebellion and ultimately a successful revolution. Flash forward to the sit-down strikes in Flint, Michigan at the General Motors Plant, and the strikers were considered to be trespassing, thus breaking the law. Breaking the law to foment change is embedded throughout US history. Civil rights activists like Rosa Parks broke laws for a higher good.
The question of whether it is acceptable to break the law in order to foment change is complex. The actions taken by Rosa Parks and other activists like her, while illegal, were immensely important, and in my eyes acceptable. When people are being oppressed, segregated, and discriminated against, civil disobedience may be the only way to foment change. Imagine living at a time where you and your entire race, or religion are being harshly discriminated and segregated against. Laws hardly protect you, and your voice is not heard. Breaking the law may then seem to be the only option to get your voice heard and foment change. In times of great injustice, and as long as the civil disobedience does not escalate into all-out violence, I do believe civil disobedience to be acceptable.
By using civil disobedience, civil rights activists brought necessary change to the United States of America. The civil rights movement is a prime example of why in times of great injustice, using civil disobedience with the purpose of fomenting change for a higher good, should be acceptable. Looking at the United States’ history and seeing the segregation laws put in place, and the discrimination of colored people, the civil disobedience of civil rights activists was necessary to get these laws overturned just as Rosa Parks’ civil disobedience lead to the Supreme Court ruling bus segregation unconstitutional in 1956. When injustice is rampant, and change seems unlikely, the refusal to comply with certain laws or to pay taxes and fines as a way to foment change is acceptable.