Rosa Parks

How she made a difference

Early Life

Rosa Louise McCauley was born on the 4th of Febuary, 1913 to Leona and James McCauley. Rosa grew up in the southern United States in Alabama. Her mother was a teacher and her father a carpenter. She had a younger brother named Sylvester.

Rosa's parents separated when she was still young, so she moved to her grandparents farm in the nearby town of Pine Level with her mother and her brother. Rosa went to the local school for African-American children where her mother was a teacher.


After finishing elementary school at Pine Level, Rosa went to the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls. Then she attended the Alabama State Teacher's College to try and get her high school diploma. Unfortunately, Rosa's mother became very sick, so she had to leave school to care for her.
A few years later Rosa met Raymond Parks. Raymond was a successful barber who worked in Montgomery. They married one year later in 1932. Rosa worked part time jobs and went back to school.
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The Montgomery Bus Boycott

On December 1, 1955, Rosa made her famous stand (while sitting) on the bus. Rosa had settled in her seat on the bus after a hard day at work. All the seats had filled up when a white man entered the bus. The bus driver told Rosa and some other African-Americans to stand up. Rosa refused to give up her seat. The bus driver said he would call the police. Rosa didn't move. Soon the police showed up and Rosa was arrested.

Rosa was charged with breaking a segregation law and was told to pay a fine of $10. She refused to pay, saying that she was not guilty and that the law was illegal.

Later that day, a number of African-American leaders got together and decided to boycott the city buses, which meant that Africans would no longer ride the buses. One of these leaders were Dr Martin Luther King Jr. He became the president of the Montgomery Improvement Association which lead the boycott.

The boycott continued for 381 days! Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court changed the law.

How Rosa Parks made a difference

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was one of the largest and most successful events against racial segregation in history. It launched Martin Luther King Jr to the front of the civil rights movement. Rosa Parks place in American history earned her an iconic status in American culture. Her actions have left an enormous legacy for civil rights movements around the world. Rosa became an icon and leading spokesperson of the civil rights movement in US. She also received many awards, such as:

  • She was selected to be one of the people to meet Nelson Mandela when he was released from prison in 1994.

  • In 1996, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton

  • In 1997, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal –which was the highest award of Congress.

Rosa Parks made a huge difference to the world, and created an enormous event in racial segregation history.