It was the first of December 1951, when Rosa Parks (42 years African American) was riding a bus back home in Alabama, US. Little did she know that day would change history.
At the time, law stated that buses have separate seats for White people and Black people. Bus drivers were given the power to assign seats, and while no passengers would be required to move or give up their seat, drivers had adopted the practice of requiring black riders to move whenever there were no white only seats left.
So, following standard practice, bus driver Blake noted that the front of the bus was filled with white passengers and there were two or three men standing, and thus moved the “colored” section sign behind Parks and demanded that four black people give up their seats in the middle section so that the white passengers could sit. Three of them complied. Parks moved, but toward the window seat; she did not get up to move to the newly repositioned colored section. Blake then said, “Why don’t you stand up?” Parks responded, “I don’t think I should have to stand up.” Blake called the police to arrest Parks.
Later when asked why she had decided not to vacate her bus seat, Parks said, “I would have to know for once and for all what rights I had as a human being and a citizen of Montgomery, Alabama.People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
When Parks refused to give up her seat, a police officer arrested her. As the officer took her away, she recalled that she asked, “Why do you push us around?” The officer’s response as she remembered it was, “I don’t know, but the law’s the law, and you’re under arrest.” She later said, “I only knew that, as I was being arrested, that it was the very last time that I would ever ride in humiliation of this kind.”
Parks was charged with a violation of the City code. Three days later, a bus boycott was announced. The boycott organizers elected one young unknown church minister to coordinate their efforts; his name was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The rest is history, more than 40,000 black commuters walked to their schools and work, some over 20 miles, and this continued for 382 days: The black movement was born, partially because of one woman who knew when to say no to injustice. Rosa Parks was called the “Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement”, she died in 2005 aged 92.