Rosa Louise McCauley was born February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama, and grew up on a farm. She was a lifelong member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She attended the Industrial School for Girls, but was unable to finish secondary education because her grandmother and mother needed her care. In 1932 Rosa married Raymond Parks, an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He encouraged Rosa to work for a high school degree and to register to vote.
Rosa Parks served as secretary of the Montgomery NAACP from 1943-1957, actively participated in the Voter's League, and was committed to the Civil Rights Movement. By the time she refused to give up her bus seat to a white rider, she knew the movement needed a catalyzing event to rally around. Parks was arrested with violating a segregation law on December 1, 1955, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott was quickly organized.
Parks is today remembered as "the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement." She traveled extensively as a motivational speaker, continued to work as a seamstress, and moved to Detroit where she died on October 24, 2005 at the age of ninety-two.
Image from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Reading Room. Photograph by Associated Press, 1964.