Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks was 42 years old when she was arrested on December 1, 1955, just a few weeks shy of her February 4 birthday. While riding on a segregated public bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Mrs. Parks was seated directly behind the front section designated for white passengers; that section filled up, and when a bus driver ordered Mrs. Parks to move to allow a white passenger to take her seat, she refused. She was arrested for this action, which violated a Montgomery city law that enforced the practice of racial segregation on public transportation.
By taking this relatively small act of civil disobedience, Rosa Parks helped to set off the infamous Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, which began just three days after Mrs. Parks' arrest. She was eventually convicted of disorderly conduct and violating a local ordinance, a charge she formally appealed as a means of issuing a challenge to the legal validity of racial segregation. In her autobiography, "My Story," Mrs. Parks notes that she had refused to move not because she was physically exhausted and needed to sit, but as a matter of principle: "the only tired I was, was tired of giving in." Just over a year later, on December 21, 1956, the practice of racial segregation was banned on the Montgomery public transit system.