Alabama Academy of Honor

Rosa Louise Parks

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2000 and in 2005.

Rosa Louise Parks, a native of Tuskegee, Alabama, and currently residing in Detroit, Michigan, was the recipient of more than 43 honorary doctorate degrees and hundreds of awards and citations. In 1996, President Clinton awarded her the Medal of Freedom, the highest award given to a civilian.

In the 1950s, while living in Montgomery, Mrs. Parks and her husband Raymond worked diligently with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Mr. Parks was an active member, and Mrs. Parks served as secretary and later as youth leader of the Montgomery branch office.

On December 1, 1955, Mrs. Parks refused to surrender her seat on a Montgomery city bus. This event and her resulting arrest triggered a wave of protest that reverberated throughout the nation. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a young minister who had recently moved to Montgomery, was appointed spokesperson for the Montgomery Bus Boycott that lasted 381 days. Rosa Park’s quiet, courageous act on that December day helped change America and its view of African Americans and redirect the course of history.

Mrs. Parks moved to Detroit in 1957. There she was employed by Congressman John Conyers from 1965 to 1988. In February 1987, in honor of her late husband, Rosa Parks co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development with Elaine Eason Steele, a long-time friend and fellow activist. The purpose of the Institute is to motivate and direct youth not targeted by other programs to achieve their highest potential. As a role model for youth, Mrs. Parks encouraged young people to research the lives of other contributors to world peace. The Institute and The Rosa Parks Legacy are part of her legacy to people of good will.

On September 2, 1998, The Rosa L. Parks Learning Center was dedicated at Botsford Commons, a seniors community in Michigan. At the Center, young people mentor senior citizens on the use of computers. Mrs. Parks was a member of the first graduating class on November 24, 1998.

Mrs. Parks wrote four books. Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue with Today's Youth received the NAACP’s Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Children’s) in 1996. Her latest book, I Am Rosa Parks, is written for preschoolers.

Mrs. Parks was voted by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. A museum and library in her honor were built in Montgomery.

Rosa Louise Parks was nationally recognized as the “mother of the modern day civil rights movement” in America. A quiet exemplification of courage, dignity, and determination, she was an outstanding role model for our nation’s youth and a symbol of freedom to all Americans.

Rosa Parks died on October 24, 2005, at her home in Detroit.