Rosa Parks was a highly courageous Afro-American woman who had challenged the racial practices of the Whites and impacted history of America. I strongly believe that the Montgomery bus event of 1955, where she refused to vacate her seat for White, was a major catalyst for civil rights movement that radically changed the American way of life (Brinkley, 2000). Rosa Parks played crucial role in the movement that gave credence to the movement and significantly strengthened blacks’ belief in themselves as individuals with equal rights. The emancipation proclamation of the slaves by Abraham Lincoln was not sufficient for the blacks who were deliberately deprived of their rights by the Whites. American society continued to maintain the racial divide which restricted blacks’ participation in social and economic activities that would help them to improve their social and economic status. Rosa Parks’ stance in the bus in 1955 served to unite the blacks and fight against the injustices of racial discrimination.
Segregation policy of the Whites was important factor and intrinsic part of racial discriminatory practices that were maintained through deliberate use of muscle power, financial advantage and power lobby (Wright, 1937). The ‘Jim Crow rules’ were evolved to intimidate blacks through violent acts, including lynching of blacks if they transgressed the unspoken rules of whites supremacy and tried to become their equal. The fight for equality has continued in the twentieth. The role of Rosa Parks in the civil movements was incidental but nevertheless, very critical that motivated Martin Luther King to call for boycott of buses by the black till the rule was changed. The mobilization of black for the boycott was hugely successful and forced the company to change the segregation rules and promote equality.
When Rosa Parks was arrested and sent to jail in 1995 for not giving her front bus seat to the White, it greatly impacted the blacks. The incident spurred collective actions and brought together the whole black population to force the authority to redefine public rules. Rosa Parks had unintentionally influenced the public perception because as a tired woman she had not violated any law except those that deliberately promoted discrimination. When she was sent to jail, it violated the sensitivity of the blacks who came together to fight against the injustices of the white. The collective power of the black was reflected in the retraction of the segregation rules. It was symbolic in its actions and greatly motivated blacks to come together and fight for equal rights with higher commitment (Schwartz, 2009). Rosa Parks had changed the course of the history.
Rosa Parks had accidentally become a heroine and a leader with great potential which she used to motivate others and helped strengthen historical movement of civil rights, led by Martin Luther King. Rosa Parks strongly advocated for the equal rights and worked towards motivating others for the rights of blacks and ethnic minorities (Giovanni & Collier, 2005). The Civil Rights Movement raised fundamental issue of equality and justice that ultimately forced the government to introduce key changes in the American constitution. It led to The Civil Rights Act of 1964. The constitutional amendment and introduction of the Act helped to provide the blacks and the minority with equal rights and equal opportunities that helped them to improve their socio-economic status. It was a landmark constitutional act that prevented discriminatory practices in workplace. The act was followed by Voting Rights Act of 1965 that augmented fresh age of hope, opportunities and empowerment of the blacks in America (Davidson & Grofman, 1994).
Scholars emphasize that what blacks have achieved at the turn of the twenty first century was remarkable in its concept and essential for human dignity and showed how they can influence legislative outcomes (Harris, Sinclair & McKinzie, 2005). But most importantly, it gave credence to the democratic values of American constitution and facilitated new mechanisms of personal and professional growth for blacks and the minority. The blacks and minorities were able to compete on merit and exploit new opportunities to improve their social status. The civil rights movement considerably owes its success to Rosa Parks who was able to inspire the black population to come forward and fight for their rights. Rosa Parks was therefore, one of the most important characters in the American history that significantly contributed to the civil rights movement that was started by Martin Luther King Jr. While Rosa Parks was an ordinary woman who was a seamstress, her involuntary act in the bus in Montgomery, Alabama became symbolic of blacks’ power. Her single act of defiance in the bus became catalyst for mass mobilization of black population that redefined history of civil movement and changed the American life forever.
Brinkley, Douglas. 2000. Rosa Parks. NY: Penguin.
Giovanni, Nikki, and Brian Collier. 2005. Rosa. New York, New York: Henry Holt.
Davidson, Chandler and Bernard Grofman, 1994. Quiet Revolution in the South: The Impact of the Voting Rights Act, 1965-1990. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Harris, Fredrick, C., Valeria Sinclair Chapman and Brian D. McKinzie. 2005. Macrodynamics of Black Political Participation in the Post-Civil Rights Era. Journal of Politics 67(4):1143-1163.
Schwartz, Barry. (2009). Collective Forgetting and the Symbolic Power of Oneness: The Strange Apotheosis of Rosa Parks. Social Psychology Quarterly 72:123-142.
Wright, Richard. 1937. The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch. NY: The Viking Press.