On December 1, 1955, an African-American seamstress was arrested after refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. That incident sparked the 381 day Montgomery Bus Boycott and launched then-unknown local minister Martin Luther King, Jr. to national prominence in the Civil Rights Movement. That seamstress was Rosa Parks, and she’s affectionately known as the mother of the Civil Rights Movement.
Many of us learned her name in school, but not many heard the rest of her story: she was more than a seamstress who was simply “tired” and didn’t want to stand up. She was the secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and she had recently attended the Highlander Folk School (an education center that focused on racial equality and workers’ rights). She knew what she was doing that day.
October 24 marks the 5 year anniversary of Rosa Parks’ death. I remember being extremely sad when the news of her death first hit back in 2005. Legacy.com created a special Guest Book, and we were immediately flooded with entries from across the nation. We had never seen anything like it before – thousands of condolences came in every hour. Here’s a small sample:
- Thank you for paving the way and opening up doors for Black America. God Bless You.
- Your strength, courage and dignity will forever be remembered in our hearts. Our prayers of consolation to the family.
- I am so honored that I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Parks. Living through the history of the time and marching for equal rights is a proud moment in my life that I will never forget.
- I am so grateful that Rosa Parks lived in this world during my lifetime. She made such a monumental impact and was an inspiration to us all. Thank you, Sister Rosa. May she rest in peace.
- Words cannot truly express how I feel. I am sad because you are no longer with us physically. I am happy because if you had not taken the stance that you did, we would not be where we are today. Your spirit will live on in our lives forever. I am truly honored to have known you.
- I will be forever grateful for the stand you took by sitting. I met you once and I hugged you. I will picture that moment for the rest of my Life.
- I’m from up north and born in the 50′s, I rode the bus every day for years and I never had to sit in the back of the bus or give up my seat to a white person, I can only imagine how that must feel. Thank you for being so brave.
With more than 45,000 total entries, Rosa Parks’ Guest Book remains the most popular in Legacy.com’s history. And there’s something very good and right about that.