Rosa Parks, an African-American woman, overcame personal and financial hardships as a result of defying Southern U.S. segregation laws by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. She was jailed for her defiance and was soon released. She lost her job as a seamstress when her case garnered publicity, but she rose to become a Civil Rights icon.
On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Ala., Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat for a white passenger when white bus driver James Blake ordered her to do so. She was jailed for violating the city’s segregation laws as a result. Due to the publicity that her case garnered, Parks suffered financial hardships when her white employer fired her from her job as a seamstress. However, Rosa Parks eventually became an international icon and was able to travel the world as a representative for the Civil Rights struggle.
Rosa Parks’ arrest sparked a massive demonstration called the Montgomery Bus Boycott in which hundreds of black people refused to take public transportation for 381 days. Black people chose to walk or carpool to their destinations instead, which adversely affected the Southern bus transit system financially.
At the time of her arrest, Parks was also a secretary for the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. Many critics assert that Civil Rights leaders chose Rosa Parks, who was a light-skinned black woman, to represent black maids, the majority of whom were of dark complexion, because they felt a light-skinned black woman would be a more acceptable representative for the issue. NAACP organizers insisted that Parks was best prepared to fight legal proceedings in conjunction with her arrest in spite of the fact that several black people had defied the same laws and were jailed months before Parks’ arrest.