Rosa Louise Parks

How are you related to Rosa Louise Parks?

Connect to the World Family Tree to find out

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)

Also Known As: "Mother of the Modern Civil Rights Movement"
Birthplace: Tuskegee, Macon County, Alabama, United States
Death: October 24, 2005 (92)
East Side Apartment, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, United States (Natural Causes)
Place of Burial: [Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel.], Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of James Henry McCauley and Leona Carlie
Wife of Raymond Arthur Parks
Sister of Sylvester James McCauley

Occupation: Mother of the Modern Civil Rights Movement | Speaker | Author | Seamstress | Life Insurance Agent | Housekeeper | Hotel Superintendent
Find A Grave ID: 12149998
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Rosa Louise Parks

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. The United States Congress has called her "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement".

On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks rejected bus driver James F. Blake's order to relinquish her seat in the "colored section" to a white passenger, after the whites-only section was filled. Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation, but the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) believed that she was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience in violating Alabama segregation laws. Parks' prominence in the community and her willingness to become a controversial figure inspired the black community to boycott the Montgomery buses for over a year, the first major direct action campaign of the post-war civil rights movement. Her case became bogged down in the state courts, but the federal Montgomery bus lawsuit Browder v. Gayle resulted in a November 1956 decision that bus segregation is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Parks' act of defiance and the Montgomery bus boycott became important symbols of the movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including Edgar Nixon, president of the local chapter of the NAACP; and Martin Luther King Jr., a new minister in Montgomery who gained national prominence in the civil rights movement and went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

At the time, Parks was employed as a seamstress at a local department store and was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. She had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for training activists for workers' rights and racial equality. She acted as a private citizen "tired of giving in". Although widely honored in later years, she also suffered for her act; she was fired from her job, and received death threats for years afterwards.

Shortly after the boycott, she moved to Detroit, where she briefly found similar work. From 1965 to 1988, she served as secretary and receptionist to John Conyers, an African-American US Representative. She was also active in the Black Power movement and the support of political prisoners in the US.

After retirement, Parks wrote her autobiography and continued to insist that the struggle for justice was not over and there was more work to be done. In her final years, she suffered from dementia. Parks received national recognition, including the NAACP's 1979 Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall. Upon her death in 2005, she was the first woman to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, becoming the thirty-first person to receive this honor. California and Missouri commemorate Rosa Parks Day on her birthday, February 4, while Ohio and Oregon commemorate the occasion on the anniversary of the day she was arrested, December 1.

Source: Wikipedia (last edited 18 September 2020)


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
East Side Apartment, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, United States
November 2, 2005
Age 92
Woodlawn Cemetery, [Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel.], Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, United States