|HSLDA News||July 29, 2002|
HSLDA Essay Contest: Category I, Second Place
by Ruth E. Miller
On a cold day in 1955, Rosa Parks, a 43-year-old respectable black woman who worked as a tailor's assistant in a department store in Montgomery, Alabama, got on the bus and headed home after a long day of working.
The bus, like so many others, was segregated. White people sat in the front. Black people sat in the back. Rosa sat in the right spot, but as the bus picked up more and more white people, the white section filled up and the driver told Rosa to stand and give her seat to a white man.
When Rosa refused, she knew she was doing a risky and daring thing. She might lose her job or even go to jail, but she was filled with determination and didn't budge. This was the beginning of the civil rights movement.
The bus driver was furious and called the police, who arrested Rosa and took her to jail. E.D. Nixon, the leader of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) raised bond money to have Rosa released from jail and then used her case as a way to fight segregation. Before long, everyone knew about the feisty little woman who wouldn't give up her seat.
Jo Ann Robinson, a black woman who was in favor of integration, was glad when she heard about Rosa Park's refusal, and decided to organize a boycott against buses. She printed over 30,000 leaflets in the process, encouraging blacks to stay off the city buses. This was not easy for the black people, but Rosa Park's brave and daring act had convinced most of them that the time had come to stand out and speak up for themselves.
The bus boycott lasted for months. The blacks had remarkable leaders who supported them by organizing carpools to take them to their jobs and other places. One of their leaders was Martin Luther King Jr. He taught the method of nonviolence to the black people. The white people in favor of segregation abused the blacks in every possible way, burning their houses and bombing churches, but the black people maintained their dignity and never fought back.
They had stayed off the buses for a total of 13 months, when at last the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on Alabama city buses was unconstitutional. The boycott was ended!
Rosa Parks, that same respectable lady who had refused to give up her seat on a bus, had changed her people's world and times. She had showed courage, determination, and bravery. Because of this, the civil rights movement had been born.
Because of her willingness to fight for her people, and her loyalty to them, she inspires me as a hero and a courageous leader. I hope that I could be just as determined as Rosa Parks if I was faced with a similar situation.