Rosa Parks : My Story
Autobiography by Rosa Parks

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Rosa Parks : My Story , by Rosa Parks, with James Haskins (paperback, 208 pages, 1991, reprinted 1999)
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          Rosa Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama on February 4, 1913.

          On December 1, 1955, 42-year-old Rosa Parks broke the law; specifically, she sat on a seat in a public bus.

          Mrs. Parks had boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus of the Montgomery City Lines bus company in Montgomery, Alabama. When instructed by the driver, the black lady refused to give up her seat to a white man. A state law made it a misdemeanor for any passenger to disobey a bus driver's seat assignments. The only purpose of that law was racial segregation. The bus driver summoned the police she was arrested. Rosa Parks was convicted of disorderly conduct and fined $10.

          Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, responded by organizing a city bus boycott. The word about the boycott was spread by handing out mimeographed leaflets. Although initially planned to be only a one-day protest, the bus boycott was so successful that its objective became an end to racial segregation in bus transportation.

          After the first month of the boycott, an estimated 95 percent of the 50,000 black people in the city were avoiding the buses. The bus boycott was to last 381 days.

          On January 30, 1956, with the bus boycott in progress for several weeks, someone bombed the house of Dr. Martin Luther King.

          On Feburary 2, 1956, Rosa Parks, Dr. King, and several others were arrested for boycotting the buses. They were charged by the Montgomery police with the crime of walking and forming carpools instead riding the buses.

          On November 13, 1956, the United States Supreme Court declared that the Montgomery, Alabama bus segregation was illegal. Montgomery officials reluctantly announced that they would obey the ruling of the high court, and the bus boycott was officially ended on December 21, 1956.

          At the time of her arrest in 1955, Rosa Parks was working as a seamstress. She was also the secretary of the Montgomery, Alabama branch of the NAACP. When the bus boycott began, she was fired from her job as a seamstress.

          In 1957, Mrs. Parks and her husband Raymond moved to Detroit. Mr. and Mrs. Parks didn't have any children.

          In 1965, while living in Detroit, Rosa Parks heard of of a black Detroit lawyer named John Conyers who decided to run for the House of Representatives (Democrat - Michigan). Parks approached Martin Luther King and suggested that they endorse Conyers' campaign. Dr. King agreed. It was one of the very few occasions in which King endorsed a specific candidate for public office. Conyers gives credit to their endorsement for his election in 1965. That same year, Parks took a job in Conyers' office, a position she was to hold for 23 years.

          Mrs. Parks suffered two more personal tragedies: her husband Raymond died in 1977, and her mother died in 1979.

          In 1980, Rosa Parks was awarded the Martin Luther King Peace Prize. The award was present by Coretta Scott King.

          In 1987, Rosa Parks established the Raymond and Rosa Parks Institute of Self-Development. The Institute assists the education of children, especially regarding the history of the African American civil rights movement. She teaches children the theory of nonviolence in the pursuit of social justice. In 1988 she retired from her job in Congressman Conyers' office and made the work of the Institute her full-time project.

          Throughout the years, Rosa Parks has continued to make public appearances. In 1988 she spoke at the Democratic National Convention, where Jesse Jackson introduced her as "the mother of the civil rights movement." She also spoke at the Million Man March in October of 1995.

          In 1991, Mrs. Parks wrote her book Rosa Parks : My Story . She chose to write the book in a form that can be appreciated by children. (The publisher's recommended age group for readers is ages 9 through adult). The book contains black and white photographs. It also contains information about the author's family history. It's an inexpensive paperback.

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