Rosa Park



One Person\'s Belief: The Story of Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement

"My feets is weary, but my soul is rested." This quote summarizes how Rosa Parks felt after her victory for the advancement of African Americans in society. Rosa Parks\' simple act of protest galvanized America\'s civil rights revolution. Mrs. Parks is best known for her refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama.

The civil rights movement originates back to the Reconstruction Era of 1865 to the 1890\'s. It had its roots in the Constitutional Amendments enacted during this period. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment expanded the guarantees of federally-protected citizenship rights, and the Fifteenth Amendment barred voting restrictions based on race. Reconstruction radically altered social, political, and economic relationships of blacks in the South and in the nation. Former slaves participated in civic and political life throughout the South and for the first time in the South, a system of universal free public education was available.
The blacks\' new vision of citizenry competed with the Democratic Party\'s politics of "redemption," which promised the restoration of white superiority and "home rule" for Southern states. As Democrats regained control of state governments throughout the South, the Ku Klux Klan and other vigilante groups sought to drive blacks from political life through a relentless campaign of fraud and violence. A combination of municipal ordinances and local and state laws mandating racial segregation ultimately permeated all spheres of public life. The Supreme Court, in rulings such as Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), upheld the South\'s "new order," which essentially nullified the constitutional amendments enacted during Reconstruction.
By the dawn of the new century, government and politics had become, as one historian observed, "inaccessible and unaccountable to Americans who happened to be black." During the age of Jim Crow, black rallies were a part of everyday life. While the rudiments of citizenship expired, black protest against new laws segregating streetcars spontaneously erupted in locally organized boycotts in at least 25 Southern cities from 1900 to 1906. Some boycotts lasted as long as two years, but these protests failed to stem the tide of segregation. Meanwhile, lynching and other forms of antiblack violence and terrorism reinforced legal structures of white domination.
Black leaders and intellectuals continued to debate a broad range of political strategies. There was, for example, the accommodationism and self-help advancement by Booker T. Washington and others, the civil rights protests advocated by Ida B. Wells and W. E. B. Du Bois, and the nationalist and emigration movements promoted by leaders such as Henry McNeal Turner. These overlapping and sometimes contradictory approaches revealed the tensions and challenges inherent in what often was a daunting effort: how to build and sustain black communities amid the crushing environment of white racism while envisioning a way forward.
During this period of white racism, many groups were formed to help and protect African Americans such as the NAACP. During the war years, NAACP membership soared to nearly 400,000 nationally, and the rate of growth in the South surpassed that in all other regions. Having reported 18,000 members in the late 1930s, the NAACP claimed 156,000 members in the South by the war\'s end. In the years to come the NAACP will prove to be quite successful and help lead many boycotts which will eventually lead to the end of segregation.
During the 1950s the struggle against Jim Crow in the South remained distant from national issues and concerns. Meanwhile, whites responded to the steady migration of Southern blacks to Northern cities by extending patterns of racial segregation and black exclusion in housing, employment, and education.
The foundation of the Civil Rights Movement remained anchored in the cumulative gains of the NAACP legal campaign and its extensive network of branches. Southern NAACP leaders, however, faced a broad defense of the racial status. In 1951 the Christmas Day assassination of Harry T. Moore, a leading NAACP organizer in Florida, and his wife inaugurated a decade of white terrorism and state-sponsored repression that heightened in the aftermath of the Brown decision.
On December 1,1955, Rosa Parks, a local NAACP leader in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to surrender her seat on a city bus to a white man. This action, and the mobilizing work of the Women\'s Political Council,