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Indybay Feature

24th Annual, CA Rosa Parks Day - celebrating her birth and lifelong legacy of service

by Khubaka, Michael Harris
Auntie Rosie, born as World World I just getting started, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her profound life legacy continues to help shape the world.
As Patron Saint of the Women's Political Council of Montgomery, Alabama their long planned boycott changed global intermodal transportation systems, we call Transit Equity today.
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Rosa Louise McCauley was born on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama to James and Leona McCauley. At age two her family moved to Pine Level, Alabama, to live with her maternal grandparents.

Her mother, a school teacher, taught Rosa at home until age eleven when she moved to Montgomery to live with her aunt. She enrolled in a private school, the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls, where she cleaned classrooms to pay her tuition. Later she attended Booker T. Washington High School but was forced to leave to take care of her sick mother.

In 1932 she married Raymond Parks, to whom she would remain married until his death in 1977. Though Raymond had very little formal education, he was self-taught and supported his wife's desire to return to school. she received her high school diploma in 1934.

Mrs. Parks worked as a seamstress at Montgomery Mayfair department store in 1955. On December 1st during the Christmas season, she boarded the city bus to go home and sat in the colored section.

The whites only section in the front of the bus filled up and a white man was left standing. The bus driver demanded that Mrs. Parks and three other patrons in the colored section give up their seats so the white man could sit. The other three people moved but Mrs. Parks had been pushed around enough and refused to yield her seat.

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was arrested when the bus driver contacted the police and filed charges against her, she was booked and bailed out of jail. The Women's Political Council of Montgomery, had long planned a challenge to racial segregation on public transportation and was ready to organize a city-wide boycott.

A one day boycott was organized, it was very successful and the community voted to continue the effort towards change.

Over a year later the city was served with papers declaring segregation of bus service unconstitutional. The next day Mrs. Parks boarded a bus and for the first time was allowed to sit in any unoccupied seat.

Her ordeal however was not over. She had lost her seamstress job and was unable to find work. Her family was harassed and threatened with death. In 1957, she moved along with her mother and husband to Detroit where her younger brother Sylvester lived.

After nearly a decade of struggle, in 1965 she joined the staff of U.S. Representative John Conyers of Michigan and worked there until her retirement in 1988.

Mrs. Parks traveled the country extensively, lecturing as the Mother of the US Civil Rights Movement. Through the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, a non-profit organization she co-founded with Elaine Steele in 1987, she worked with young people to help them achieve their full potential. She has received honorary degrees from nearly a dozen colleges and universities and has received countless honors and awards.

On Friday, February 4, 2000, Rosa Parks Day in California was established by the California State Legislature and our journey to honor the legacy of Auntie Rosie continues...
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