Today in Feminist History

On October 30, 2005, six days after Rosa Parks’ death, she was transported to the US Capitol and became the first woman to lie in honor (have their body be presented for public recognition) in the Capital Rotunda. This also made her only the second African-American to lie in honor.
Rosa Parks’ is best known for her role in the civil rights movement, when she refused to give up her seat to a white woman in Montogomery Alabama in 1955. She wasn’t the first to resist these segregation rules, but her action sparked a wider boycott on the bus system. She later went on to collaborate with Martin Luther King Jr and other civil rights leaders.
Via New York Times On This Day

Join the Conversation

  • JLu

    And I just want to add that Rosa Parks was actually incredibly active in politics and the fight for civil rights starting in early 1940s. While she became famous for sitting on that bus, it wasn’t mere coincidence that it was her that made a stand and she wasn’t just some sweet lady who wanted to rest her feet. She was a woman who had been engaged in the fight for civil rights for over ten years when she was told to move.

  • Laurenms

    This makes my heart warm.

  • nthomas00

    Good point. Rosa Parks is always portrayed as the sweet woman who was just coming home from work and took a stand only because she wanted to rest her feet. This is an example of sexist American society that wants to take away any power from the actions of women.

  • Comrade Kevin

    Interesting story. The leaders of the bus boycott had selected another woman to take Rosa Parks’ role but decided not to use her because,
    There are many reasons why Claudette Colvin has been pretty much forgotten. She hardly ever told her story when she moved to New York City. In her new community, hardly anyone was talking about integration; instead, most people were talking about black enterprises, black power and Malcolm X.
    When asked why she is little known and why everyone thinks only of Rosa Parks, Colvin says the NAACP and all the other black organizations felt Parks would be a good icon because “she was an adult. They didn’t think teenagers would be reliable.”
    She also says Parks had the right hair and the right look.
    “Her skin texture was the kind that people associate with the middle class,” says Colvin. “She fit that profile.”
    David Garrow, a historian and the author of Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, says people may think that Parks’ action was spontaneous, but black civic leaders had been thinking about what to do about the Montgomery buses for years.
    After Colvin’s arrest, she found herself shunned by parts of her community. She experienced various difficulties and became pregnant. Civil rights leaders felt she was an inappropriate symbol for a test case.
    Parks was the secretary of the NACCP. She was well-known and respected and, says Garrow, Parks had a “natural gravitas” and was an “inherently impressive person.”

  • pololly

    How is this comment appropriate?
    Actually Colvin became pregnant by a married man while being used as the test case. If you understood oppressive racism or even sexism, you would understand that the leaders of the civil rights movement had no choice but to find someone else. Throughout history, minority communities have been continuously judged by each other’s actions. Community lynchings, stereotyping, ‘a disgrace to the race’ dialogue. Coupled with the stigma against unwed mothers and you have the situation they were in. they didn’t think ‘she was innapropriate’, they were completely constrained and acted in self preservation for the good of the entire community.But congratulations on your flip tone.
    Anyone who’s ever read a book knows these cases weren’t spontaneous. Only racism (the idea that black communities never ‘help themselves’) and sexism (a woman’s agency must always be erased) would tell them otherwise.