She didn’t know it at the time but December 1, 1955 would be the day that would put her name in history books. That was the day when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger.
Her act of resistance that day unleashed a movement that helped to end legal segregation in the U.S., and cemented her as the “mother of the civil rights movement.” But Parks didn’t become an activist that day. She already had a long history of fighting for justice, including being an active member of Montgomery, Alabama’s NAACP chapter since 1943.
In honor of what would be her 104th birthday on Saturday, here’s a look at some lesser known facts about Parks’ life before she became a public figure.
Criminal Justice Warrior
Parks’ commitment to social justice and the fight for equality reaches way beyond the bus. Her early political career focused on issues of interracial sexual violence. She helped raise money for the defense of the “Scottsboro Boys,” nine Black teenagers falsely accused of raping two white women in 1931. All nine were later paroled, freed or posthumously pardoned after being wrongly convicted in a case that led to two landmark Supreme Court opinions over equality in the courtroom. Read more