Rosa Louise Parks

Is your surname Parks?

Research the Parks family

Rosa Louise Parks's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Rosa Louise Parks (McCauley)

Birthdate: (92)
Birthplace: Tuskegee, Macon County, Alabama, United States
Death: October 24, 2005 (92)
Her Apartment, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, United States (Dementia)
Place of Burial: Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Jim H. McCauley and Leona McCauley
Wife of Raymond A. Parks
Sister of Sylvester James McCauley

Occupation: Dressmaker, a seamstress, a life insurance agent, housekeeper, a hotel supervisor, civil rights activist, speaker, and author.
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Rosa Louise Parks

Profile of the day in Geni, Rosa Parks.

She was an African American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress later called "the first lady of civil rights", and "the mother of the freedom movement".

On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, age 42, refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Her action was not the first of its kind. Irene Morgan in 1946, and Sarah Louise Keys in 1955, had won rulings before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Interstate Commerce Commission, respectively, in the area of interstate bus travel. Nine months before Parks refused to give up her seat, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to move from her seat on the same bus system. In New York City, in 1854, Lizzie Jennings engaged in similar activity, leading to the desegregation of the horsecars and horse-drawn omnibuses of that city. [3] But unlike these previous individual actions of civil disobedience, Parks' action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Parks' act of defiance became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including boycott leader Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to launch him to national prominence in the civil rights movement.

At the time of her action, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for workers' rights and racial equality. Nonetheless, she took her action as a private citizen "tired of giving in". Although widely honored in later years for her action, she suffered for it, losing her job as a seamstress in a local department store. Eventually, she moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she found similar work. From 1965 to 1988 she served as secretary and receptionist to African-American U.S. Representative John Conyers. After retirement from this position, she wrote an autobiography and lived a largely private life in Detroit. In her final years she suffered from dementia and became embroiled in a lawsuit filed on her behalf against American hip-hop duo OutKast.

Parks eventually received many honors ranging from the 1979 Spingarn Medal to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall. Her death in 2005 was a major story in the United States' leading newspapers. She was granted the posthumous honor of lying in state at the Capitol Rotunda.


Famous People Who Died of Dementia

Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist and NAACP leader who became famous after she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person. She received national recognitions including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She lived a full life until she died of natural causes at the age of 92 on October 24, 2005. She had been struggling with dementia for years.

Civil Rights Pioneer and Social Activist. An African-American working woman, she became most famous for her refusal in 1955 to give up a bus seat to a white man who was getting on the bus, an incident that led to her arrest and inspired Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr to led the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, one of his first Civil Rights actions. Because of this action, she was called the "Mother of the Modern Civil Rights Movement." She was also the first woman to ever lie in state in the United States Capitol, and the United States Flag was flown at half-staff in her honor over all public buildings on the day of her funeral. Born Rosa Louise McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama, she was the daughter of James and Leona McCauley, a carpenter and a school teacher. When her parents separated, she moved with her mother to Pine Level, Alabama, outside Montgomery, where she grew up on a farm. Initially home schooled, she enrolled in the Industrial School for Girls in Montgomery when she was 11, later dropping out to care for her ill mother and grandmother. In 1932, she married Raymond Parks, a barber, who helped her earn her high school diploma. Raymond was a member of the NAACP, which she later joined in 1943, becoming elected secretary of the local Montgomery chapter. In 1944, she worked at Maxwell Air Force Base, where segregation was not permitted in federal facilities, and it made her realize that racial integration was possible. In 1955, Rosa was not the first African-American to refuse to give up her seat to a white person; however, it was her refusal that sparked the Civil Rights movement into becoming a significant movement for creating change in America. Parks was fined $10 plus $4 in court costs for violating local city law, and immediately, with civil rights movement support, appealed her conviction. The bus boycott lasted 381 days, and placed Dr. Martin Luther King firmly into the national headlines. In January 1956, a lawsuit entered into federal court against the city of Montgomery struck down the city law as unconstitutional, forcing integration on the buses, and with that ruling the bus boycott ended. After her arrest, Rosa became famous in the growing civil rights movement, however, she was fired from her job. In 1957, she and Raymond moved to Hampton, Virginia, both to find work and because of disagreements with Dr. King and other leaders over civil rights strategy. After several months in Virginia, they moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she worked as a seamstress, until Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan) hired her in 1965 to work as his secretary. She continued to work for him until 1988, when she retired. Her husband died in 1977 from cancer. In 1992, she published her autobiography, "Rosa Parks: My Story," and in 1995, published a revised autobiography, "Quiet Strength." She died in her apartment in a Detroit nursing home at the age of 92. She was the 31st person, the first woman, and the second African-American (the first was Jacob Chestnut) to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda. She was interred next to her husband and her mother at the Detroit Woodlawn Cemetery's mausoleum. She has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including a Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Alabama Governor's Medal of Honor for Extraordinary Courage, in addition to over two dozen honorary doctorate degrees from various universities and colleges. (bio by: [fg.cgi?page=mr&MRid=503045" target="_blank Erik Lander)]

view all

Rosa Louise Parks's Timeline

February 4, 1913
Tuskegee, Macon County, Alabama, United States
October 24, 2005
Age 92
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, United States
November 2, 2005
Age 92
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, United States