By Brandon Moseley

On this day in 1955, Rosa Parks, a Black seamstress, refused to give up her seat in the front of a Montgomery bus to a white man. This was in open defiance of a Montgomery segregation law that required that whites be given preferential seating on the city’s public transportation system.

Parks, an NAACP member, was committed to the cause of civil rights and knew that the group was planning an act of civil disobedience to draw attention to the Jim Crow laws in place at the time.

When Parks was jailed for refusing to give up her seat, Black leaders objected and the Montgomery Bus Boycott was organized by 26-year-old Dexter Avenue Baptist Church Pastor Martin Luther King, Jr. For nearly a year, Blacks refused to ride the buses, even though they were the majority of bus passengers prior to the boycott. King received death threats for his defiance of segregation and his house was bombed.

Eventually, on Nov. 6, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial seating laws on buses were unconstitutional. 

The furor and pushback by whites at the time meant that Parks had to leave Alabama for Michigan to find employment.

Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1913. Rosa Parks died on October 24, 2005.

In 2018, the Alabama Legislature unanimously approved a bill declaring Dec. 1 as Rosa Parks Day in the state. Alabama is one of four states to designate holidays in honor of Parks. This is the only Alabama holiday in honor of a woman.

To commemorate the day, Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum will unveil a new piece of outdoor artwork and provide a free concert in observance of Rosa Parks Day in Alabama.

The work by artist Ian Mangum will be unveiled during a by-invitation ceremony beginning at 11:30 a.m.

The free Rosa Parks Day concert by The Westerlies, a critically acclaimed New York-based brass quartet, will be held in the museum’s auditorium at 2:00 p.m.

(Original reporting by Troy University and the History Channel contributed to this report.)

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