Join us in commemorating Rosa Parks Day in Missouri. Discover the remarkable story of courage and the fight for equality.
- Date: February 4th
- Main Components: Honoring Rosa Parks, a civil rights icon and a national hero, for her courage and dignity in challenging racial segregation and discrimination.
- Popularity: Celebrated in several U.S. states, including Missouri, California, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Alabama, Texas, and others.
- Pairings: Events and activities that commemorate her legacy, such as exhibits, bus tours, campus events, school programs, community initiatives, etc.
- Variations: Some states observe Rosa Parks Day on December 1, the day she was arrested in 1955.
Rosa Parks Day is a holiday in honor of the civil rights leader Rosa Parks, celebrated in the U.S. states of California and Missouri on her birthday, February 4, in Michigan on the first Monday after her birthday, and in Ohio and Oregon on the day she was arrested. Rosa Parks Day was created by the Michigan State Legislature and first celebrated in 1998. The California State Legislature followed suit in 2000. The holiday was first designated in the U.S. state of Ohio championed by Joyce Beatty, advocate who helped Ohio’s legislation pass to honor the late leader. It is also celebrated by the Columbus Ohio bus system (COTA) with a special tribute to the late civil rights leader. As of 2014, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon proclaimed Rosa Parks Day official in the state. In 2014, Oregon governor John Kitzhaber declared that Oregon would celebrate its first Rosa Parks Day. In 2021, the Texas Legislature passed HB 3481, recognizing December 1 as Rosa Parks Day in the state. After Juneteenth became a federal holiday, there are growing calls for this day to also be observed at the federal level. On September 3, 2021, HR 5111 proposes that this day be added to the list of federal holidays.
The purpose of this article is to explore the origins and significance of Rosa Parks Day in Missouri, as well as the events and activities that celebrate her legacy across the country. We will also learn more about Rosa Parks herself, who became known as “The Mother of the Civil Rights Movement” for her brave act of defiance on a Montgomery city bus in 1955.
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Rosa Parks: The Woman Who Changed a Nation
Rosa Parks was born as Rosa Louise McCauley on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. She grew up in a segregated and oppressive society that denied basic rights and opportunities to African Americans. She attended a rural school for black children until she was 11 years old, when she enrolled at the Industrial School for Girls in Montgomery. She later attended Alabama State Teachers College for a year before dropping out to care for her ill grandmother and mother. She married Raymond Parks, a barber and an activist, in 1932. She also worked as a seamstress and a department store clerk.
In 1943, she joined the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where she served as the secretary and later as the youth leader. She also attended workshops at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, where she learned about nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience. She became involved in various civil rights causes, such as voter registration drives, anti-lynching campaigns, and cases of racial injustice. One of these cases was that of Recy Taylor, a black woman who was raped by six white men in Abbeville, Alabama, in 1944. Parks helped organize a national campaign to seek justice for Taylor.
However, her most famous incident occurred on December 1, 1955. On that day, she boarded a Montgomery city bus after work and sat in the first row of seats reserved for black passengers. As more white passengers got on the bus, the driver James F. Blake ordered Parks and three other black passengers to move to the back of the bus to make room for them. The other three complied, but Parks refused to give up her seat. She later said: “I had been pushed around all my life and felt at this moment that I couldn’t take it anymore.” Blake called the police and had Parks arrested for violating the city’s segregation laws.
Parks’ arrest sparked outrage among the black community of Montgomery. They decided to boycott the bus system until their demands for fair treatment were met. They formed the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) to organize and lead the boycott. The MIA elected a young pastor named Martin Luther King Jr. as its president. King delivered his famous speech “We Shall Not Be Moved” at the Holt Street Baptist Church on December 5, 1955, the first day of the boycott. He said: “There comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression.”
The boycott lasted for 381 days, during which the black residents of Montgomery walked, biked, carpooled, or used cabs to get around. They faced harassment, intimidation, violence, and arrests from the white authorities and mobs. They also faced legal challenges from the city and the state, which tried to outlaw the boycott and the MIA. Parks and her husband lost their jobs and received death threats. They eventually moved to Detroit, Michigan, in 1957, where they lived for the rest of their lives.
The boycott ended on December 20, 1956, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Browder v. Gayle that segregated busing was unconstitutional. The decision was based on a lawsuit filed by four black women who had also been mistreated on Montgomery buses: Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Claudette Colvin, and Mary Louise Smith. The MIA declared victory and called off the boycott. The next day, Parks and King were among the first passengers to ride the integrated buses.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a watershed moment in the history of the civil rights movement. It demonstrated the power of nonviolent protest and mass mobilization. It also launched the careers of many civil rights leaders, such as King, Ralph Abernathy, Fred Gray, E.D. Nixon, and others. It inspired other campaigns and movements across the country and around the world.
Parks continued to work for civil rights and social justice in Detroit. She worked as an administrative aide for Congressman John Conyers Jr., a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, from 1965 to 1988. She also founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development in 1987 with her friend Elaine Eason Steele. The institute provides educational and leadership opportunities for young people.
Parks received many honours and awards for her courage and dignity. She was the first woman and the second black person to lie in honour at the U.S. Capitol after her death in 2005. She was also awarded the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal in 1979, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999. She also received honorary degrees from dozens of colleges and universities.
Parks’ legacy and impact on the civil rights movement and American history are undeniable. She is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. She is celebrated as a hero and a role model by millions of people around the world.
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Rosa Parks Day in Missouri: A Statewide Tribute to Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks Day is a holiday that honors Rosa Parks and her contributions to the civil rights movement. It is celebrated in several U.S. states on different dates. In Missouri, it is observed on February 4, which is Parks’ birthday.
The origin of Rosa Parks Day in Missouri can be traced back to 2014, when Governor Jay Nixon issued a proclamation declaring February 4 as Rosa Parks Day in the state. The proclamation stated: “Rosa Parks’ brave act on December 1st, 1955 sparked a movement that changed our nation forever; she remains an enduring symbol of courage in our nation’s long struggle for equality.” The proclamation also encouraged Missourians to “honor her legacy by working together to make our state a place where all people are treated with dignity and respect.”
The significance of Rosa Parks Day in Missouri is to celebrate her life and achievements, as well as to reflect on the lessons and values that she embodied. It is also a day to educate and inspire people about the history and importance of the civil rights movement and its relevance to contemporary issues of racial justice and social change.
The events and activities that mark Rosa Parks Day in Missouri vary from year to year and from place to place. Some examples are:
- Exhibits and galleries that showcase her life and achievements, such as the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University in Troy, Alabama, which features a replica of the bus where she made her stand, as well as interactive displays, artifacts, documents, photographs, videos, and artworks related to her story.
- Bus tours that retrace her historic route and visit civil rights sites in Montgomery, Alabama, such as the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where King preached, the Mt. Zion Church where boycott meetings were held, and the Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel where she was laid to rest.
- Campus events that honor her legacy and promote diversity and inclusion at colleges and universities in Missouri, such as lectures, panel discussions, film screenings, book readings, art exhibits, musical performances, poetry slams, etc.
- School programs that educate students about her story and inspire them to make a difference in their communities, such as curriculum materials
- such as curriculum materials, books, articles, videos, quizzes, and activities that teach them about her role in the civil rights movement and the values of courage, dignity, and perseverance.
- Community initiatives that support causes that she cared about or advocated for, such as Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, Highlander Folk School, and others. These initiatives may include fundraising, volunteering, advocacy, or awareness campaigns.
Rosa Parks Day in Missouri is a holiday that honors the civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who changed the course of American history with her simple act of defiance on a Montgomery city bus in 1955. Her courage and dignity inspired millions of people to join the struggle for racial equality and social justice. Her legacy and impact are celebrated across the country and around the world with various events and activities that commemorate her life and achievements. She is a role model and a hero for all people who believe in freedom and human rights.
As Rosa Parks once said: “Each person must live their life as a model for others.” On this day, let us remember her words and follow her example. Let us honor her legacy by working together to make our state and our nation a place where all people are treated with respect and dignity. Let us celebrate Rosa Parks Day in Missouri by continuing the fight for civil rights and social change.