5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Rosa Parks

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was jailed for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, a violation of the city’s racial segregation laws. Here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about Rosa Parks…

ADVERTISEMENT

Parks Wasn’t The First Black Woman To Refuse To Give Up Her Seat Pioneer activist Claudette Colvin was only 15 years old in 1955 when she made the news after she was removed from a bus in Montgomery, Alabama when she refused to give her seat up. Because Colvin was expecting a baby, and the father was married to someone else, the NAACP didn’t think they could get enough support to start a movement at that time. This happened nine months before Rosa Parks made national news after being arrested for the same thing.

Parks Did Not Refuse To Give Up Her Seat Because Her Feet Were Tired In her autobiography, Parks debunked the myth that she refused to vacate her seat because she was tired after a long day at work. “I was not tired physically,” she wrote, “or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Parks Was Not Sitting in a “Whites-Only” Section of The Bus Parks was sitting in the front row of a middle section of the bus open to African Americans if seats were vacant. After the “whites-only” section filled on subsequent stops and a white man was left standing, the driver demanded that Parks and three others in the row leave their seats. While the other three eventually moved, Parks did not.

Her Rent Was Paid by Little Caesars' Founder for Years At the age of 81, Parks was beaten and robbed of $50 in her Detroit apartment and needed to move to a safer location. Mike Ilitch, the founder of the pizza chain Little Caesars and owner of the Detroit Tigers and Redwings, heard about it and offered to pay her rent from then on. She lived in her new apartment until she died in 2005 at age 92.

Parks Holds a Special Honor at the U.S. Capitol Lying in state is a special honor that is given to few Americans and usually, only to a person who served in a high public office. Only four U.S. citizens from private life have been honored in this way, and Rosa Parks is the only woman to have had this honor. More than 30,000 people filed past her coffin to pay their respects.