On December 1, 1955, African American seamstress Rosa Parks was traveling in a Montgomery City bus when the bus driver asked her to vacate her seat for a white man. The driver’s request was standard practice of racial segregation in buses at the time. Rosa Parks refused to leave her seat on the grounds of fairness, freedom and equality. As a result, she was arrested and convicted of violating the laws of segregation, known as the “Jim Crow” laws. She appealed her conviction and formally challenged the legality of segregation. At the same time, civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr, boycotted the Montgomery bus system.
The boycott lasted for 381 days, into December 1956, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the segregation law was unconstitutional and the Montgomery buses should be integrated. This boycott kick-started other civil rights protests throughout the U.S. Over the years, the Rosa Parks bus has become a symbol of the fight for equal rights. It has been fully restored and is now displayed in the Henry Ford Museum. Rosa Parks’ Day, on February 4, is also known as the Day of Courage.