The actions of Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 helped spark the civil rights movement.
At the time African Americans traveling on local buses had to sit in a special section at the back, and if the bus filled up, they might be asked to give their seats to white passengers.
On December 1, tired after a day of work, Parks took a seat with other African Americans in the back but soon was asked to give her seat to a white man.
She refused and was promptly arrested. When Parks, an active member of the local NAACP, agreed to fight her arrest in court, a black women’s group, led by Jo Ann Robinson, organized a related protest against segregated seating on buses.
Joined by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who became the leader of the new civil rights crusade, the women urged African Americans to stay off city buses on the day of Parks’s trial.
When Parks was found guilty, the boycott continued for more than a year. To avoid riding buses, many black women walked miles to their jobs. They kept the buses empty and made the boycott a success.
Finally, in late 1956, the Supreme Court ruled that segregated seating on buses is illegal.
In 1950 Mary Church Terrell, age 87, sued a restaurant in Washington, D.C., when it refused to serve her because she was African American. She won.
In 1955 jean Blackwell Hutson took charge of the Schomburg Collection at the New York Library and helped create a major center for research on African American culture.