Today is Alabama's first #RosaParksDay, commemorating the date — Dec. 1, 1955 — of her arrest for refusing to surrender her seat to a white passenger on one of Montgomery's city buses, sparking the Montgomery bus boycott.
Alabama is the fifth state in the country to set aside a day to recognize Rosa Parks. Events commemorating her contributions to the civil rights movement took place throughout Montgomery.
Alabama State University held a ceremony recognizing the importance of her role in the movement. The university's archives contain documents pertaining to Rosa Parks' arrest.
Dr. Rolundus Rice, a professor in Alabama State's history department, called her arrest "the most faithful & fortuitous arrest in the 20th century," comparing its significance to that of the Boston Tea Party because of its impact on the civil rights movement.
Rosa Parks was already a civil rights activist with a history of fighting against racist violence by the time she refused to give up her seat on the bus. In 1955, she was a secretary for the Montgomery NAACP.
"This is the epicenter of world change," said Alabama State's president Dr. Quinton T. Ross Jr., referring as much to the Montgomery's role in the civil rights movement as to the fact that Rosa Parks attended a high school operated by the university's education department.
The people who participated in the Montgomery bus boycott, which started on Dec. 5, 1955, didn't do it without sacrifice. "They put everything at risk to engage in this peaceful protest," said historian and Alabama State professor Dr. Derryn Moten.
The Montgomery bus boycott lasted one year and 15 days, ending on Dec. 20, 1956, the date the city's buses were desegregated following the Supreme Court's ruling in Browder v. Gayle. #RosaParksDay
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