Happy Birthday Rosa Parks!

Today is the birthday of an amazing woman named Rosa Parks. On the off chance you haven’t heard about her at some point in your life, she refused to move from her seat so that a white person could sit down. At the time, it was still legal to treat “free” blacks as second class citizens in the United States. While she was not the only person to do this during the time of segregation, she is the one that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) felt would make the best face for their cause. What you may not know, is that Mrs. Parks had been fighting for her rights long before that day.

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama on February 4th, 1913. Rosa’s multiracial heritage fit the American ideal of a melting pot better than most Americans alive today. Though being African, Cherokee, and Scot-Irish during the 20th Century was not easy. This was the time of Jim Crow laws, legal segregation, and open racism. Though slavery was no longer legal, African Americans were often beaten, raped, killed, spat on, fired, underpaid, and so much more. Most of this was completely legal and even encouraged. Black communities and schools were underfunded, leading to the stereotypes of “uneducated thugs” that we still see in media today.

Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King jr. (ca. 1955) Mrs. Rosa Parks altered the negro progress in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, by the bus boycott she began. National Archives record ID: 306-PSD-65-1882 (Box 93). Source: Ebony Magazine

A few years after Rosa married Raymond Parks she joined the NAACP as a secretary. While she wanted to do more gender stereotypes was just one more battle she was having to face. She used her place at the NAACP to help investigate the gang rape of Recy Taylor and help to establish The Committee for Equal Justice. She later became a housekeeper for a white couple, Clifford and Virginia Durr, that later became good friends of hers. They went on to encourage and even sponsor for her to attend the Highlander Folk School, a school for activism and equallity.

She was very active in the community, working with the NAACP as much as she could to help bring racial equality to America. She fought for voters rights and help other blacks in her community get registered to vote despite the laws and segregation. However, her social activism career really took off on the day that she refused to give her seat up on that bus. This act of defiance led to her being arrested and pushed to be the icon she is today.

There is so much more that this woman did in her life than I will ever have time to share, but her acts of activism helps to change the world as we know it. Stories like this happen everyday, all over the world, but most of us don’t ever get the chance to hear them. If you have a story you would like to share please let me know. You can comment below or email me at theempathybug@gmail.com.

This month’s charity highlight is Our House, an amazing homeless shelter that is doing a ton of amazing things for Arkansans! To learn more check out last week’s post.

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