Rosa Parks became a prominent face in the civil rights movement when she refused to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger on Dec.1, 1955, in Montgomery, Ala. She was arrested, and the local NAACP chapter organized a successful bus boycott to coincide with her trial.
The bus boycott continued for several months, effectively shutting down Montgomery's public transit system. Parks' attorney, Fred Gray, filed a suit in U.S. District Court seeking to end "separate but equal" segregation on public transportation, and, in June 1956, the district court declared racial segregation laws unconstitutional. On appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the district court's ruling.
Parks, who was at the time the secretary for the local NAACP chapter, was fired from her job as a seamstress as a result of her actions. Her husband was also fired from his job because of her actions. While she collaborated with civil rights leaders, including Edgar Nixon and Martin Luther King, Jr., she later moved to Detroit, where she worked as a secretary to U.S. Representative John Conyers and served on the board of Planned Parenthood.
Parks' contributions to the civil rights movement were recognized with numerous accolades, including the NAACP's Springarn Medal in 1979, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1997. She died in 2005 at the age of 92.