The woman who earned the title “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement”, Rosa Louise Parks is an enormous inspiration to the African American race (Girl Power Guests 1).
Rosa was born in Tuskegee, Alabama on February 4, 1913 to James and Leona McCauley (The Life of Rosa parks Essay 1). Both of Rosa’s parents were born before slavery was banished from the United States. They suffered a difficult childhood, and after emancipation the conditions for blacks were not much better. Rosa’s mother was a schoolteacher and her father was a farmer (Rosa Parks: Pioneer of Civil Rights Interview 1). Rosa’s parents separated in 1915, and her mother moved Rosa and her younger brother to Montgomery, Alabama to live with their grandmother (Working Together into the 21st Century).
The southern states during this period of time were extremely segregated. Confederate Army veterans from Pulaski, Tennessee established the Ku Klux Klan, a secret society in 1866 during reconstruction. Members of the Klan beat and murdered several black people. During election times there would be several occurrences where Klan members would beat, rape, and murder blacks, trying to intimidate the republican representatives. In order to hide their identity, they would where white robes, and white sheets over their faces with only the eyes cut out.
They would burn crosses to petrify their victims and their families (Encyclopedia of America 133). The Ku Klux Klan was very involved in Montgomery, where Rosa and her family were living. Rosa’s mother was a very important role model for her and her brother. Because their mother was a schoolteacher, she home schooled Rosa until the age of eleven (Working Together in to the 21st Century 1). After she was eleven, Rosa attended the all-black school of Montgomery Industrial School for Girls where she cleaned classrooms in order to pay her tuition.
After attending the school for girls, she enrolled at Booker T. Washington High School, another black school, until the age of 15. She was forced to drop out of her High School because her mother was ill and she needed to return home to take care of her (The Life of Rosa Parks 1). When Rosa McCauley was 20 years old in 1932 she met and married a barber by the name of Mr. Raymond Parks.
Rosa began to sew and to take on several seamstress jobs, and also housekeeping jobs (Working Together into the 21st Century 1). Although Raymond received very little proper education, he was very supportive of his wife’s wishes to return to school and receive her High School diploma. Rosa indeed did return to school and earned her diploma in 1932 (The Life of Rosa Parks 1). The Parks family was also very involved in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This organization’s priority was to abolish prejudices and discrimination for minorities. Blacks did not have equal opportunities as whites did in housing, education, employment, voting, and transportation (NAACP 1).
Rosa was elected secretary of NAACP in 1943 during WW II. Raymond was a charter member of NAACP who tried to encourage black citizens to become registered voters (Like It Is 51). Montgomery was a very segregated city with restricted “Black Areas. ” The black people had their own separate bathrooms, drinking fountains, elevators, and seating arrangements. Rosa chose to take several acts of silent protests to these rules. She would walk up the stairs instead of riding the elevator, which was labeled, “Blacks Only.
” If Rosa were not too tired after work, she would walk home instead of taking the bus (Working Together into the 21st Century). Buses were a major problem not only in Montgomery Alabama, but in the rest of the Southern United States as well. Black citizens made up 60 percent of the bus population. Buses stopped in every white community and most black people had to walk up to a half mile to get to a bus stop. Black people were forced to pay at the front of the bus, and then walk behind the bus to get on (Witness to America 426).
The front four rows of the bus were restricted to white passengers only.