AD 1955- Rosa Parks and the bus boycott

At the same time America was helping its allies rebuild after World War II, it was lagging far behind in social equality. Despite the contributions of African Americans to World War II and the Korean War, the racial gap in America had widened during the 1950’s to the point that African Americans were not allowed to use the same drinking fountains, attend the same schools, or sit in preferential seats on public transportation. And so, in 1955, an event occurred that would lead to the Civil Rights Movement and eventually bring racial equality. On December 1st in the city of Birmingham, Alabama, an African America seamstress named Rosa Parks boarded a bus to go home from work. Because she was tired, she refused to vacate the seat for a white passenger. Eventually, the police were called and Parks was arrested for the crime of sitting wrongfully on a bus. Because Parks had been an active member of a civil rights group, she was aware of the precedent she was setting, which stiffened her resolve. Due to Parks’ arrest, the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham instituted an African American boycott of the bus service until such time as the bus laws were repealed. In 1956, the Supreme Court found the Birmingham laws to be illegal, and they were overturned. This led to great tension between African Americans and whites in the South and was a precipitating factor in the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks’ conduct was an inspiration for Martin Luther King, Jr., who would go on to be the public face of the movement in the 1960’s.