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Where Was Rosa Parks Sitting When She Was Arrested in 1955?

On 1 December 1955, after a long day of work at a department store in Montgomery, Alabama, seamstress Rosa Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus. She took a seat in the section designated for "colored" passengers. The bus began to fill, and when the driver noticed that white passengers were standing in the aisle, he stopped the bus and relocated the sign indicating the area for black passengers. In the process, he asked four black passengers to give up their seats. Three passengers complied, but Parks remained seated and the driver called the police. Before getting on the bus on that fateful day, Parks hadn't been intending to make a symbolic stand for civil rights. But when the bus driver told her to move, Parks realized that she was "tired of giving in" to the injustice of segregation. Her decision, and resulting arrest, was a pivotal moment that led to the Montgomery bus boycott.

Pay in the front, board in the back:

  • Montgomery's laws required that all public transportation be segregated. Drivers had the "powers of a police officer” to enforce the code, but it didn’t specifically give them the right to make passengers give up their seats.
  • Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the custom of making African-American passengers to defer to white passengers -- and if they protested, the driver had the authority to refuse service or call the police.
  • When an African-American passenger boarded a bus, he or she got on at the front to pay the fare. The passenger was then required to get off the bus and re-board through the back door.
Discussion Comments
By anon998294 — On May 10, 2017

I also never knew that there was a rear door re-boarding policy. I'm 40 and glad to finally hear about these "never known things." I agree... As long as everybody respected and truly cared for each other, then the world would never be in such a true state of turmoil.

By anon998249 — On May 02, 2017

Never knew about Montgomery's rear door boarding. Hope it was unique to this city. Hard to imagine this kind of treatment, even though I lived through it. We in the north, just were not aware of how extensive it was.

By anon998236 — On Apr 30, 2017

No wonder the world is in such a state of turmoil; what difference does the color of your skin matter as long as you respect one another!

By anon998235 — On Apr 30, 2017

I didn't know about the rear-door re-boarding policy. Glad to be informed of this.

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