The Tablet Jr. > February 2022

By Nicole Masturek and Sienna DeSalvo, Grade 4

Nicole Masturek

Nicole Masturek

Rosa Parks was a civil rights leader who refused to give up her seat to a white person on a separate bus, which led to the Bus Boycott. Rosa Parks was born on February 4, 1913, in Alabama. Her parents were named James and Leona McCauley. James and Leona had to separate when Rosa was two.

Rosa Parks went to segregated schools and was taught to read by her mom. At Rosa’s school, African American students had to walk through the sixth-grade school, but the white students got to go on buses.

When Rosa Parks was 11, she attended the Industrial School for Girls in Montgomery. In 1929, while in the 11th grade and attending a laboratory school for secondary education led by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes.

Sienna DeSalvo

Sienna DeSalvo

On December 1, 1955, Parks was arrested for refusing a bus driver’s instructions to give up her seat to a white passenger. Members of the African American community were asked to stay off city buses on Monday, December 5, 1955, the day of Rosa Parks’ trial, protesting her arrest. People were encouraged to stay home from work or school, take a cab or walk to work. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, as it came to be known, was a huge success, lasting for 381 days and ending with a Supreme Court ruling declaring keeping a part of public transit systems to be banned.

Rosa parks and all the other African Americans were only allowed to drink from water fountains that had a label saying that black people could drink here. African Americans could only borrow books from the “black” library. Segregation was written into law; the front of a Montgomery bus was reserved for white citizens and the seats behind them for Black citizens. However, it was only by custom that bus drivers had the authority to ask a Black person to give up a seat for a white rider. There were contradictory Montgomery laws on the books: One said segregation must be enforced, but another, largely ignored, said no person (white or Black) could be asked to give up a seat even if there were no other seats on the bus available.