Rosa Parks remembered when she was just a child going to elementary school, how she would watch the school buses take white students to their new school, while she and her fellow black students had to walk to theirs.
“I’d see the bus pass every day… But to me, that was a way of life; we had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world… I did a lot of walking in Montgomery.”
One day in 1943, Parks boarded a Montgomery Transit bus and paid the fare. When she went to take her seat, the driver told her to follow city rules and to enter the bus again from the back door. Parks complied and exited the bus to re-board at the rear, but before she was back aboard, the bus sped off, leaving her to walk home in the rain.Twelve years later, around 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 1, 1955 after working all day, Rosa Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus in downtown Montgomery. She paid her fare and sat in an empty seat she found in the first row of back seats reserved for the “colored” section. Her row was near the middle of the bus, directly behind the ten seats reserved for white passengers.As the bus traveled along its regular route, the white-only seats in the bus started to fill up. When the bus reached its third stop in front of the Empire Theater, several more passengers boarded. The bus driver noted that white passengers were now standing, so he got up and moved the “colored” section sign back a row and requested the four people in that row to give up their seats so that the white passengers could sit: “Y’all better make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats.”