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Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

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Rosa Parks fingerprinted by police, February 22, 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama.

On December 1, 1955, at the age of 43, Rosa Parks, a civil rights activist who worked as a seamstress, refused to vacate her seat for a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. That state imposed Jim Crow segregation laws, and Parks was arrested. In response, the leader of the Women's Political Council, a local English professor named Jo Ann Robinson, and E. D. Nixon, a former Garveyite and a president of both the local Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the local NAACP branch, helped organize a mass bus boycott by the black working people of Montgomery, especially female domestic workers. The boycott lasted for 381 days, until the Supreme Court struck down the bus segregation law. It also brought a young local minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. to national attention. Fired from her job, Parks moved to Detroit and found work with a Michigan Congressman. After Parks died in 2005, she was the first woman to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

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