Rosa Packs Biography and Profile, Rosa Louise McCauley Parks
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Rosa Parks Biography

Bio Synopsis

Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Mrs. Parks received more than forty-three honorary doctorate degrees. Parks met Pope John-Paul II in St. Louis, MO and read a statement to him asking for racial healing. Rosa Parks was a symbol to all to remain free. Read Rosa Louise Parks Biography and Profile. Read more


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Rosa Parks Early Life

Rosa Parks (Rosa Louise Parks, Rosa Louise McCauley Parks) was born Rosa Louise McCauley on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. After her parents, James and Leona McCauley, separated when Rosa was two, Rosa’s mother moved the family to Pine Level, Alabama, to live with her parents, Rose and Sylvester Edwards. Both of Rosa’s grandparents were former slaves and strong advocates for racial equality; the family lived on the Edwards’ farm, where Rosa would spend her youth. In one experience, Rosa’s grandfather stood in front of their house with a shotgun while Ku Klux Klan members marched down the street.

Rosa Parks was a civil rights leader whose refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her bravery led to nationwide efforts to end racial segregation. Parks was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Award by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

A quiet exemplification of courage, dignity, and determination; Rosa Parks was a symbol to all to remain free. Rosa Parks made her peaceful transition October 24, 2005.

Rosa Louise Parks Biography and Profile

Mrs. Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley, February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. She was the first child of James and Leona Edwards McCauley. Her brother, Sylvester McCauley, now deceased, was born August 20, 1915. Later, the family moved to Pine Level, Alabama where Rosa was reared and educated in the rural school. When she completed her education in Pine Level at age eleven, her mother, Leona, enrolled her in Montgomery Industrial School for Girls (Miss White’s School for Girls), a private institution. After finishing Miss White’s School, she went on to Alabama State Teacher’s College High School. She, however, was unable to graduate with her class, because of the illness of her grandmother Rose Edwards and later her death.

Rosa Louise Parks was nationally recognized as the “mother of the modern day civil rights movement” in America. Her refusal to surrender her seat to a white male passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, December 1, 1955, triggered a wave of protest December 5, 1955 that reverberated throughout the United States. Her quiet courageous act changed America, its view of black people and redirected the course of history.

As Rosa Parks prepared to return to Alabama State Teacher’s College, her mother also became ill, therefore, she continued to take care of their home and care for her mother while her brother, Sylvester, worked outside of the home. She received her high school diploma in 1934, after her marriage to Raymond Parks, December 18, 1932.

Raymond, now deceased was born in Wedowee, Alabama, Randolph County, February 12, 1903, received little formal education due to racial segregation. He was a self-educated person with the assistance of his mother, Geri Parks. His immaculate dress and his thorough knowledge of domestic affairs and current events made most think he was college educated. He supported and encouraged Rosa’s desire to complete her formal education.

Mr. Parks was an early activist in the effort to free the “Scottsboro Boys,” a celebrated case in the 1930?s. Together, Raymond and Rosa worked in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP’s) programs. He was an active member and she served as secretary and later youth leader of the local branch. At the time of her arrest, she was preparing for a major youth conference.

what did rosa parks do?

Called “the mother of the civil rights movement,” Rosa Parks invigorated the struggle for racial equality when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of going to the back of the bus, which was designated for African Americans, she sat in the front. When the bus started to fill up with white passengers, the bus driver asked Parks to move. She refused. Her resistance set in motion one of the largest social movements in history, the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Parks’ arrest on December 1, 1955 launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott by 17,000 black citizens. A Supreme Court ruling and declining revenues forced the city to desegregate its buses thirteen months later. Parks became an instant icon, but her resistance was a natural extension of a lifelong commitment to activism. Over the years, she had repeatedly disobeyed bus segregation regulations. Once, she even had been put off a bus for her defiance.

The No. 2857 bus on which Rosa Parks was riding before her arrest (a GM old-look transit bus, serial number 1132)
The No. 2857 bus on which Rosa Parks was riding before her arrest (a GM old-look transit bus, serial number 1132)

Rosa Parks Bus Boycott

After the arrest of Rosa Parks, black people of Montgomery and sympathizers of other races organized and promoted a boycott of the city bus line that lasted 381 days. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was appointed the spokesperson for the Bus Boycott and taught nonviolence to all participants. Contingent with the protest in Montgomery, others took shape throughout the south and the country. They took form as sit-ins, eat-ins, swim-ins, and similar causes. Thousands of courageous people joined the “protest” to demand equal rights for all people.

Parks moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1957

Mrs. Parks moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1957. In 1964 she became a deaconess in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME).

John Conyers First Congressional District of Michigan employed Rosa Parks

Congressman John Conyers First Congressional District of Michigan employed Mrs. Parks, from 1965 to 1988. In February, 1987, she co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development with Ms. Elaine Eason Steele in honor of her husband, Raymond (1903-1977). The purpose is to motivate and direct youth not targeted by other programs to achieve their highest potential. Rosa Parks sees the energy of young people as a real force for change. It is among her most treasured themes of human priorities as she speaks to young people of all ages at schools, colleges, and national organizations around the world.

Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development

The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development’s “Pathways to Freedom program, traces the underground railroad into the civil rights movement and beyond. Youth, ages 11 through 17, meet and talk with Mrs. Parks and other national leaders as they participate in educational and historical research throughout the world. They journey primarily by bus as “freedom riders” did in the 1960?s,the theme: “Where have we been? Where are we going?”

role model for youth

As a role model for youth she was stimulated by their enthusiasm to learn as much about her life as possible. A modest person, she always encourages them to research the lives of other contributors to world peace. The Institute and The Rosa Parks Legacy are her legacies to people of good will.

honorary doctorate degrees

Mrs. Parks received more than forty-three honorary doctorate degrees, including one from SOKA UNIVERSITY, Tokyo Japan, hundreds of plaques, certificates, citations, awards and keys to many cities. Among them are the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, the UAW’s Social Justice Award, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non – Violent Peace Prize and the ROSA PARKS PEACE PRIZE in 1994, Stockholm Sweden, to name a few.

In September 1996 President William J. Clinton, the forty second President of the United States of America gave Mrs. Parks the MEDAL OF FREEDOM, the highest award given to a civilian citizen.

Rosa Parks receive an award from Bill Clinton
Rosa Parks receive an award from Bill Clinton

Rosa Parks’ Day

Published Act no.28 of 1997 designated the first Monday following February 4, as Mrs Rosa Parks’ Day in the state of Michigan, her home state. She is the first living person to be honored with a holiday.

Time Magazine as one of the 100 most Influential people

She was voted by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most Influential people of the 20th century. A Museum and Library is being built in her honor, in Montgomery, AL and will open in the fall of the year 2000 (ground breaking April 21, 1998). On September 2, 1998 The Rosa L. Parks Learning Center was dedicated at Botsford Commons, a senior community in Michigan. Through the use of computer technology, youth will mentor seniors on the use of computers. (Mrs. Parks was a member of the first graduating class on November 24, 1998). On September 26, 1998 Mrs. Parks was the recipient of the first International Freedom Conductor’s Award by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rosa Parks attended her first “State of the Union Address” in January 1999

She attended her first “State of the Union Address” in January 1999. Mrs. Parks received a unanimous bipartisan standing ovation when President William Jefferson Clinton acknowledged her. Representative Julia Carson of Indianapolis, Indiana introduced H. R. Bill 573 on February 4, 1999, which would award Mrs. Rosa Parks the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor if it passed the House of Representatives and the Senate by a majority. The bill was passed unanimously in the Senate on April 19, and with one descenting vote in the House of Representatives on April 20. President Clinton signed it into law on May 3, 1999. Mrs. Parks was one of only 250 individuals at the time, including the American Red Cross to receive this honor. President George Washington was the first to receive the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor. President Nelson Mandela is also listed among the select few of world leaders who have received the medal.

Rosa Parks met Pope John-Paul II

In the winter of 2000 Mrs. Parks met Pope John-Paul II in St. Louis, MO and read a statement to him asking for racial healing. She received the NAACP Image Award for Best Supporting Actress in the Television series, TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL, “Black like Monica”. Troy State University at Montgomery opened The Rosa Parks Library and Museum on the site where Mrs. Parks was arrested December 1, 1955. It opened on the 45th Anniversary of her arrest and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

“The Rosa Parks Story” was filmed in Montgomery

“The Rosa Parks Story” was filmed in Montgomery, Alabama May 2001, an aired February 24, 2002 on the CBS television network. Mrs. Parks continues to receive numerous awards including the very first Lifetime Achievement Award ever given by The Institute for Research on Women & Gender, Stanford University. She received the Gandhi, King, Ikeda award for peace and on October 29, 2003 Mrs. Parks was an International Institute Heritage Hall of fame honoree. On February 4, 2004 Mrs. Parks 91st birthday was celebrated at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. On December 21, 2004 the 49th Anniversary of the Mrs. Parks’ arrest was commemorated with a Civil Rights and Hip-Hop Forum at the Franklin Settlement in Detroit, Michigan.

February 4, 2005 Rose Parks’ 92nd birthday was celebrate at Calvary Baptist Church in Detroit

On February 4, 2005 Mrs. Parks’ 92nd birthday was celebrate at Calvary Baptist Church in Detroit, MI. Students from the Detroit Public Schools did “Willing to be Arrested,” a reenactment of Mrs. Parks arrest. February 6, 2005 Mrs. Parks received the first annual Cardinal Dearden Peace Award at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Detroit, MI. February 19 – 20, composer Hannibal Lokumbe premiered an original symphony “Dear Mrs. Parks.” Mr. Lokumbe did this original work as part of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s ” Classical Roots Series.” The beginning of many events that will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Mrs. Parks’ arrest December 1, 1955.

Rosa Parks Education

Throughout Parks’ education, she attended segregated schools. Taught to read by her mother at a young age, Parks attended a segregated, one-room school in Pine Level, Alabama, that often lacked adequate school supplies such as desks. African American students were forced to walk to the first through sixth-grade schoolhouse, while the city of Pine Level provided bus transportation as well as a new school building for white students.

Beginning at age 11, Parks attended the city’s Industrial School for Girls in Montgomery. In 1929, while in the 11th grade and attending a laboratory school for secondary education led by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes, Parks left school to attend to both her sick grandmother and mother back in Pine Level.

Parks didn’t return to her studies. Instead, she got a job at a shirt factory in Montgomery. After marrying in 1932, she earned her high school degree in 1933 with her husband’s support.

Rosa Parks Books

  • My Story: by Rosa Parks with Jim Haskins,
  • Quiet Strength by Rosa Parks with Gregory J. Reed,
  • Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue With Today’s Youth by Rosa Parks with Gregory J, Reed, this book received the NAACP’s Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, (Children’s) in 1996,
  • I AM ROSA PARKS by Rosa Parks with Jim Haskins, for preschoolers

A quiet exemplification of courage, dignity, and determination; Rosa Parks was a symbol to all to remain free. Rosa Parks made her peaceful transition October 24, 2005.

Rosa Parks Awards

Parks received many accolades during her lifetime, including the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP’s highest award, and the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Award.

Rosa Parks Family

Parks parents, James and Leona McCauley, separated when Parks was two. Parks’ mother moved the family to Pine Level, Alabama, to live with her parents, Rose and Sylvester Edwards. Both of Parks’ grandparents were former slaves and strong advocates for racial equality; the family lived on the Edwards’ farm, where Parks would spend her youth.

Parks’ childhood brought her early experiences with racial discrimination and activism for racial equality. In one experience, Parks’ grandfather stood in front of their house with a shotgun while Ku Klux Klan members marched down the street.

how did rosa parks die?

Parks died of natural causes on October 24, 2005 in her apartment on the east side of Detroit.

Rosa Parks Husband

In 1932, Rosa married Raymond Parks, a barber from Montgomery. He was a member of the NAACP, which at the time was collecting money to support the defense of the Scottsboro Boys, a group of black men falsely accused of raping two white women.

Rosa Parks Children

Rosa Parks and her husband Raymond Parks never had children and she outlived her only sibling.

Rosa Parks Facts

  • Rosa Louise McCauley was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, on February 4, 1913.
  • Parks was not the first African-American woman to be arrested for refusing to yield her seat on a Montgomery bus.
  • Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist before her arrest.
  • Parks had a prior encounter with James Blake, the bus driver who demanded she vacate her seat.
  • Her act of civil disobedience was not pre-meditated.
  • Parks was not sitting in a whites-only section.
  • Rosa Parks did not refuse to leave her seat because her feet were tired.
  • Weeks after her arrest, Parks was jailed a second time for her role in the boycott.
  • Parks was forced to move from Montgomery soon after the boycott.
  • Parks was the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.
  • Bus seats were left empty to honor Parks on the 50th anniversary of her arrest.
  • Raymond and Rosa, who worked as a seamstress, became respected members of Montgomery’s large African American community.
  • On December 5, Parks was found guilty of violating segregation laws, given a suspended sentence and fined $10 plus $4 in court costs.

where did rosa parks live?

Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her parents, James and Leona McCauley, separated when Parks was two. Parks’ mother moved the family to Pine Level, Alabama, to live with her parents, Rose and Sylvester Edwards.

Like many Detroit blacks, Parks remained particularly concerned about housing issues. She herself lived in a neighborhood, Virginia Park, which had been compromised by highway construction and urban renewal. By 1962, these policies had destroyed 10,000 structures in Detroit, displacing 43,096 people, 70 percent of them African-American. Parks lived just a mile from the epicenter of the riot that took place in Detroit in 1967, and she considered housing discrimination a major factor that provoked the disorder.

  • Biography of Rosa Parks (Rosa Louise Parks)
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