Rosa Louise McCauley Parks

Burial Location Visited
Detroit, Michigan April 19, 2010


The mausoleum in which "The Mother of the                                              Outside the Rosa L. Parks
Modern Day Civil Rights Movement" is                                                       Freedom Chapel. Parks' stand
entombed.                                                                                              against segregation led to the
                                                                                                             Montgomery Bus Boycott.


Rosa Parks' final resting place. She is interred                              Earlier that day, at the Henry Ford
inside this vault in the mausoleum.                                            Museum in Dearborn, I boarded the actual
                                                                                              bus Mrs. Parks was riding on December 1,
                                                                                              and sat in her seat.

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* Civil rights activist Rosa Parks, one of the most renowned people of the 20th century, came into this world on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. She was a small, sickly child who was cared for by her parents James and Leona McCauley, who were a carpenter and a teacher, respectively. James and Leona separated when their daughter was around two years old, and the latter took her and her brother to live on their grandparents' farm in Pine Level, located near Montgomery. Attending "rural schools" in her early youth, she enrolled at Miss White's School for Girls at age eleven. When it came time for Rosa to move on to high school, she went to a school that had been set up by the Alabama State Teachers College. She was forced to drop out, however, when her grandmother became ill.

* In 1932, Rosa wed Raymond A. Parks, a barber from Montgomery, in a ceremony at her mother's home. Raymond Parks was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, also known as the NAACP. Knowing that few African Americans at the time were high school graduates, Parks urged his wife to continue her studies and earn a diploma, which she did in 1933. Also at this time, she joined her husband in raising funds in support of "The Scottsboro Boys", nine African American teenagers who were falsely accused of raping two white women. In 1943, Rosa joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and began serving as its secretary, which she did until 1957. She also secured a position at the Maxwell Air Force Base, which was desegregated, even in the 1940's. Having lived in a racist, segregated America for so long, Parks stated that her experience at Maxwell "opened [her] eyes up."

* Parks found work in 1955 as a seamstress at the Montgomery Fair department store. That was where she was returning from on December 1, 1955, riding the Cleveland Avenue bus. Parks was sitting in the rear of the vehicle, which was designated for people of color. However, after a few stops, the front of the bus (which was for "Whites Only") filled up completely. When the bus driver, James F. Blake, noticed that several white men were standing, he strode to the back of the bus and moved the "Colored Section" sign several rows behind Parks. He then requested that Parks and three other African Americans move behind the sign. Though the other three complied, Mrs. Parks did not budge. When Blake questioned her actions, Parks remarked that she didn't think that she should be required to do so. After Blake stated that she was forcing him to call the police, the seamstress replied, "You may do that."

* Soon after, two police officers arrived and arraigned Parks. Upon being brought to the police station, she was photographed, fingerprinted, and charged with violating Chapter 6, Section 11 of the city code. The official police report stated that the seamstress was charged with "refusing to obey orders of bus driver". The following evening, she was bailed out by lawyer Clifford Durr and Edgar D. Nixon, the president of the local NAACP chapter. When the case went to trial several days later, Parks was found guilty and was forced to pay a $10 fine, as well as $4 in court fees. That very same day marked the start of the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott. With African Americans refusing to use their services, Montgomery City Bus Lines was hurt, as the majority of people riding busses were of this demographic. However, nothing changed. In June of 1956, several months into the boycott, a Montgomery federal court ruled that segregating transportation violated the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. When the city appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the decision was upheld. On December 21st, after boycotting for 381 days, African Americans were finally able to board desegregated busses. In addition to thrusting 42-year-old Parks into the spotlight, the boycott brought attention to one of its leaders, a young Alabama reverend named Martin Luther King, Jr.

* By resisting the driver of the Cleveland Avenue bus that fateful day, Rosa Parks became a symbol for the Civil Rights Movement. All the same, none of that made her life any easier. As a result of her arrest, she was let go from her job at the Montgomery Fair department store. Her husband, Raymond, quit his job when his employer forbade him from discussing the bus incident. She and Raymond subsequently left Montgomery for Hampton, Virginia, though they relocated to Detroit not too long after. In 1965, U.S. Representative John Conyers hired Mrs. Parks as a secretary for his Detroit office. The 1970's were brutal for the Alabama native, as her husband, brother, and mother all succumbed to cancer. Despite these personal tragedies, Parks continued to do good deeds, co-founding both the Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation and the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. In 1992, Parks released her autobiography, titled Rosa Parks: My Story. 81-year-old Parks was robbed and beaten in her own home in 1994, prompting her to move to a high rise apartment building elsewhere in Detroit. Within the next few years, the elderly Parks was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the International Freedom Conductor Award, and the Congressional Gold Medal. Upon her death in October of 2005, she was given the privilege of laying in honor in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. *

Spouse: Raymond A. Parks (1903-1977)

ast Words: Unknown

* Lying in honor is similar to, though not the same, as lying in state. When people lie in state in the U.S. Capitol, they are guarded by members of each branch of the United States Armed Forces. Someone who lies in honor is watched over by the United States Capitol Police, and members of this agency serve as a civilian honor guard. Lying in state is generally reserved for government officials and important military figures, though there is no formal rule that declares who may lie in state rather than lie in honor.
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