Parks refused to pay her money in front and then go around to the back to board. Comfortably setting her parcels down, Rosa took a seat next to a black man in the middle section of the bus. The bus was not crowded, with many seats still open in the front.
There were two black women sitting across the aisle from her. They were all seated in a row toward the middle of the bus. As she would clarify repeatedly in the years to come, she was not sitting in the white section but in the middle section of the bus. The middle was liminal space; whereas the other sections had inflexible racial assignments, the middle allowed space for paying black customers to sit which could be trumped on the discretion of the driver by the needs of a white rider. At the third stop, the white section of the bus filled up.
The bus had 36 seats, 14 whites occupied the white front section; 22 black people were sitting in the back seats. A white man proceeded to stand behind the driver. Parks and three others were sitting. By the terms of Alabama segregation, because there were no seats remaining in the white section, all four passengers would have to get up so one white man could sit down. When the driver ordered them to give up their seats, no one moved.
She thought about Emmett Till. And she decided to stand fast. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day … No the only tired I was, was tired of giving in. Blake told the four black passengers to move.
Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks: ‘The Dark End of the Street’ revisited
The white passenger never said anything to Parks. She moved her legs so the man sitting in the window seat could get out and then slid into the seat next to the window. She continued to sit, firm in her decision but unsure what would next ensue. The tall, blond year-old driver got up and walked back to where she was seated. Born nine months before Rosa Parks in the town of Seman, Alabama, Blake had left school after the ninth grade and been hired by the bus company in The line between reason and madness grows thinner due to the horrible restrictiveness of Jim Crow laws.
Parks had reached her stopping point. There were no other seats on the bus so, according to city code, Parks was entitled to keep hers. There were no other seats; however, she stated that if there had been, she had made up her mind never to move again. Refusing to assume a deferential position, Parks looked him straight in the eye. Given her NAACP organizing experience, Parks was exceedingly cognizant of the dangers a black woman faced in getting arrested. She knew that Claudette Colvin had been manhandled by police and others had been beaten or shot for their resistance.
Parks thought about the possibility of resisting but decided not to put up any physical fight, even if Blake or the police got rough with her. And I would have been too physically weak to try to have done anything to protect myself against any of these policemen, you know, if they had decided to use violence in handling me. But here she did not. Parks was a seasoned activist at this point and understood the value in not resisting arrest — since the police had actually charged Colvin not just with a violation of the segregation laws but also with resisting arrest and assault.
Rosa Parks' Archive and Some Controversies Around It...
Parks refused. But when you have to get transportation home, you are denied an equal accommodation. She refused. As she had learned from her mother and grandparents, part of being respectable was not consenting to the disrespect of her person. You got to exercise your power and put her off, hear? Most on the bus, black and white, feared what might happen. They did not want trouble, and many wished she would just stand up.
Parks heard grumblings of conversation though she could not make out what they were saying. Some black people exited the bus. Police officers F. Day and D. Mixon boarded the bus. Nowadays, the task of controlling Negroes was entrusted to the legally constituted constabulary. They did not have to resort to common vigilantism — at least publicly — and had entrusted the police to maintain a severely segregated and unequal city.
The law was up to the task. The first officer addressed Parks and asked her why she did not stand up when instructed to.
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As she exited the bus, one officer picked up her purse and the other her shopping bag. The policemen were reluctant, but they had no choice. In contrast to other troubles Parks had previously had on the bus, Blake chose to have her arrested, rather than simply evicting her from the bus. In an interview on February 5, , Parks put the agency on Blake, rather than the officers, who were willing to just put her off the bus.
That decision, according to E.
At p. In an interview years later, Blake explained, "I wasn't trying to do anything to that Parks woman except do my job. She was in violation of the city codes, so what was I supposed to do? That damn bus was full and she wouldn't move back.
Parks, Rosa 1913—
I had my orders. Parks made the decision to remain in her seat with her own political will and long history of bus resistance. She did not make it because of E. Nixon or Myles Horton, though they had certainly been instrumental in her political development. She was not a Freedom Rider boarding the bus to engage in an act of intentional desegregation. Still, Rosa Parks was a seasoned political organizer.
History: Rosa Parks arrested, fined
She had been galled by bus segregation for years. So that evening as she waited the many minutes for the police to board the bus, she thought about what Mr. Nixon would say and perhaps even how they might use this in their organizing. In the hundreds of interviews she gave around her bus stand, however, Parks rarely acknowledged thinking of Nixon during her arrest and what they might do.
There is no evidence of any sort of plan, no indication till the moment presented itself of Parks knowing that she would be able to summon the courage to refuse to move from her seat.
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But thinking or even talking about it and actually being able to act in the moment are vastly different. But she was well-aware of the political situation and the resources she would call on. Nixon and let him know what had happened. The bus was bought by an Alabama family in the s for use as a storage unit and appeared in the movie "The Long Walk Home," about the bus boycott. CEO William Mastro.