“On December 1, 1955 Mrs. Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old Negro seamstress, was ordered by a Montgomery City Lines bus driver to get up and make way for some white passengers. She refused, was arrested and fined $10 under an Alabama law making it a misdemeanor for any person to disobey a bus driver’s seating instructions. But that was not the last of Rosa Parks. Within 48 hours a boycott of the city’s buses was called…”—as reported in TIME 1956
It was a boycott that was felt around the world.
Long before “Blacks” and “African Americans,” Negroes were walking. Dirt roads and tar-black highways, cobblestone streets and cracked sidewalks were known to Negroes intimately. The segregation of people could be justified by many: “They have their society, we have ours.” The world of the negro (un-capitalized until the 1920s—”oh wow!”—) was a walking world.
Rosa Parks did a lot of walking in Montgomery.
One day in 1943, Rosa boarded a bus and paid the fare. She then moved to her seat but the driver told her to follow city rules and enter the bus a second time from the back door. Rosa left the bus, but before she could re-board at the rear, the driver drove off, leaving her to walk home in the rain.
In 1955 Rosa Parks, traveling her familiar route, faced the same bus driver. This time she refused him.
A boycott was called on December 5, 1955, that required the trudging of many feet.
It rained that day. Still the black community persevered. Some rode in carpools, while others traveled in black-operated cabs that charged the same fare as the bus. The remainder of the 40,000 black commuters walked, some as far as 20 miles.
A Negro minister stopped to pick up an old woman who had trudged a long way. “Sister,” said he, “aren’t you getting tired?” Her reply: “My soul has been tired for a long time. Now my feet are tired.
“But my soul is resting.”