Mrs. Rosa L. Parks Day is December 1
In 2018, the Alabama Legislature unanimously approved a bill declaring Dec. 1 as Rosa Parks Day in the state, making Alabama one of four states to designate holidays in honor of Parks and marking the first Alabama holiday to honor a woman. Dec. 1 marks the anniversary of Parks’ historic 1955 arrest after she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus to a white male passenger. Her arrest sparked a boycott of Montgomery city buses by the African American community, which lead to the desegregation of Montgomery’s public bus system.
On Dec. 1, 1955, at the end of a workday as a tailor’s assistant at Montgomery Fair Department Store, Mrs. Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus to go home. She sat in the first of many rows designated for “colored” passengers. When a white male entered the bus, the driver told four African Americans to give up their seats to the white passenger because the white section was full. Mrs. Parks refused. The bus driver called the police and Mrs. Parks was arrested. Later at her trial, she was found guilty of violating the city ordinance (the Montgomery Bus Code), received a suspended sentence, and was fined $10.00 plus $4.00 in court costs.
Mrs. Parks’ refusal to give up her seat was a bold act and helped ignite the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the most successful nonviolent movement in support of civil rights in the United States.
Following her death, in 2005, her body lay in the rotunda of the United States Capitol, making her the first woman given such an honor, the second African American, and the first American who was not a government official. A statue of Rosa Parks was placed in the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol by special action of the U.S. Congress.
In 2019, The City of Montgomery unveiled a statue of Mrs. Parks in Court Square in downtown Montgomery.
Plans are underway to place a statue of Mrs. Parks on the west side of the Alabama State Capitol, facing Bainbridge Street and possibly looking down Dexter Avenue, where Parks boarded the bus on Dec. 1, 1955. Mrs. Rosa L. Parks, a woman of courage, risked her life to end segregation and make the world a better place.
All Alabama citizens are requested to devote some portion of this day to commemorate the accomplishments of Mrs. Rosa L. Parks, a woman of great courage, vision, love, and faith who helped usher in the modern civil rights movement, by refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery. Each resident is requested to observe the day with appropriate activities.
Here are 11 ways you can commemorate the life of Mrs. Rosa L. Parks, an American Civil Rights hero.
1. Take part in 2021 Rosa Parks Day Commemoration events, hosted by the City of Montgomery. Visit mgmbusboycott.com to view commemoration events and details.
2. Visit the Rosa Parks Museum and Children’s Wing, on the campus of Troy University Montgomery. Admission fees are waived December 1 – 5. Visitors can tour a replica of a 1955 Montgomery Transit bus and see a 1956 station wagon like the ones used by boycotters to carpool while also seeing many historic artifacts. To learn more about upcoming events, hours of operations, and additional details visit https://www.troy.edu/student-life-resources/arts-culture/rosa-parks-museum/visit.html
3. Visit the MGM Bus Boycott Exhibit at the Legacy Museum, curated by The Equal Justice Initiative. To learn more visit https://museumandmemorial.eji.org/visit
4. Take a free tour of Rosa Park Apartment, 660 Cleveland Court. The Montgomery Housing Authority is offering public tours of the home of Mrs. Parks from 1951-1957. Items inside the home have been preserved or recreated.
5. Visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. To learn more, visit https://www.bcri.org/visit-us/
6. Explore Alabama’s Civil Rights Legacy. To learn more, visit https://alabama.travel/experience-alabama/civil-rights-legacy
7. Tour the Dora Franklin Finley American Heritage Trail in Mobile. To learn more visit, https://www.dffaaht.org/
8. Tour the Anniston Civil Rights Trail. For more information visit https://www.annistonal.gov/parks-recreation/anniston-civil-rights-trail/
9. Take a walk on the Rocket City Civil Rights Driving Tour. To learn more, visit www.rocketcitycivilrights.org
10. Visit and explore the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. For more information, please visit https://civilrightstrail.com/attraction/selma-to-montgomery-national-historic-trail/
11. Visit the Alabama Department Archives and History to learn more about Mrs. Rosa L. Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the Civil Rights Movement. To learn more, please visit the https://archives.alabama.gov/ and https://www.alabamahistoryhome.org/
Alabama Department of Archives and History
Rosa Parks, born in Tuskegee in 1913, became active in the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the early 1940s.
Rosa Parks on a Montgomery bus in 1955. Getty Images
“I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom. - Mrs. Rosa L. Parks”
Rosa Parks Day commemorates the life of a civil rights leader whose simple act of disobedience inspired the modern Civil Rights Movement.