Welcome to our collection of quotes by Rosa Parks. We hope you enjoy pondering them and please share widely.
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an African-American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. The United States Congress has honored her as "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement".
On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks rejected bus driver James F. Blake's order to vacate a row of four seats in the "colored" section in favor of a white passenger, once the "white" section was filled. Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation, but the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) believed that she was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience in violating Alabama segregation laws, and she helped inspire the black community to boycott the Montgomery buses for over a year. The case became bogged down in the state courts, but the federal Montgomery bus lawsuit Browder v. Gayle resulted in a November 1956 decision that bus segregation is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Parks' act of defiance and the Montgomery bus boycott became important symbols of the movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation, and organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including Edgar Nixon and Martin Luther King Jr.. At the time, Parks was employed as a seamstress at a local department store and was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. She had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for training activists for workers' rights and racial equality. Although widely honored in later years, she also suffered for her act; she was fired from her job, and received death threats for years afterwards. Shortly after the boycott, she moved to Detroit, where she briefly found similar work. From 1965 to 1988, she served as secretary and receptionist to John Conyers, an African-American US Representative. She was also active in the Black Power movement and the support of political prisoners in the US.
After retirement, Parks wrote her autobiography and continued to insist that there was more work to be done in the struggle for justice. Parks received national recognition, including the NAACP's 1979 Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall. Upon her death in 2005, she was the first woman to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. California and Missouri commemorate Rosa Parks Day on her birthday, February 4, while Ohio and Oregon commemorate the anniversary of her arrest, December 1.
You must never be fearful about what you are doing what is right.
God has always given me the strength to say what is right.
To this day I believe we are here on earth to live, grow, and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.
I will always work for human rights for all people.
I talked and talked of everything I know about the white man's inhuman treatment of the Negro.
We had a saying that we worked from can to can't, which means working from when you can see (sunup) to when you can't (sundown).
I had decided that I would not go anywhere with a piece of paper in my hand asking white folks for any favors. I had made that decision myself, as an individual.
It was just a matter of survivalーlike getting off the roadーso we could exist form day to day.
What I learned best at Miss White's school was that I was a person with dignity and self-respect, and I should not set my sights lower than anybody else just because I was black.
I knew someone had to take the first step. So I made up my mind not to move.
You cannot always control the powers-that-be. You just have to have faith and stand by the things you believe in.
I learned to put my trust in God and to see Him as my strength. Long ago I set my mind to be a free person and not to give in to fear. I always felt that it was my right to defend myself if I could. I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear. -- Rosa Parks.
When I see the leadership roles black women are taking today I am very encouraged.
As long as there is unemployment, war, crime and all things that go to the infliction of man's inhumanity to man, regardless -- there is much to be done, and people need to work together.
My resisting being mistreated on the bus did not begin with that particular arrest…I did a lot of walking in Montgomery.
Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that held its ground.
I was determined to achieve the total freedom that our history lessons.
I had been pushed as far as I could stand to be pushed. I had decided that I would have to know once and for all what rights I had as a human being and a citizen.
I was ready to die but give my consent never. Never, never.
As long as people use tactics to oppress or restrict other people from being free, there is work to be done.
I did not get on the bus to get arrested I got on the bus to go home.
Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it.
I had given up my seat before, but this day, I was especially tired. Tired from my work as a seamstress, and tired from the ache in my heart.
I do the very best I can to look upon life with optimism and hope and looking forward to a better day.
I do the very best I can to look upon life with optimism and hope and looking forward to a better day, but I don't think there is anything such as complete happiness. It pains me that there is still a lot of Klan activity and racism. I think when you say you're happy, you have everything that you need and everything that you want, and nothing more to wish for. I haven't reached that stage yet.
Since I have always been a strong believer in God, I knew that He was with me, and only He could get me through that next step.
When that white driver stepped back toward us, when he waved his hand and ordered us up and out of our seats, I felt a determination cover my body like a quilt on a winter night.
What really matters is not whether we have problems, but how we go through them. We must keep going on to make it through whatever we are facing.
Racial pride and self-dignity were emphasized in my family and community.
All I was trying to do was get home from work.
Arrest me for sitting on a bus? You may do that.
If I can sit down for freedom, you can stand up for children.
I thought about Emmett Till, and I could not go back. My legs and feet were not hurting, that is a stereotype. I paid the same fare as others, and I felt violated. I was not going back.
I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move.
Nothing in the Golden Rule says that others will treat us as we have treated them. It only says that we must treat others in a way that we would want to be treated.
Victory or defeat? It is the slogan of all-powerful militarism in every belligerent nation. And yet, what can victory bring to the proletariat?
If you want to be respected for your actions, then your behavior must be above reproach. If our lives demonstrate that we are peaceful, humble, and trusted, this is recognized by others.
It takes more than one person to bring about peace -- it takes all of us.
I see the energy of young people as a real force for positive change.
It is better to protest than to accept injustice.
I thought of Emmett Till, and when the bus driver ordered me to move to the back, I just couldn't move.
I will no longer act on the outside in a way that contradicts the truth that I hold deeply inside. I will no longer act as if I were less than the whole person I know myself inwardly to be.
I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.
Without a vision the people perish, but without courage dreams die.
The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.
To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try.
There is no future without education.
I believe there is only one race -- the human race.
One person can change the world.
I had no idea that history was being made. I was just tired of giving up.
I want to be treated like a human being.
I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people.
My only concern was to get home after a hard day's work.
Whites would accuse you of causing trouble when all you were doing was acting like a normal human being instead of cringing.
Why do you all push us around?
It was not pre-arranged. It just happened that the driver made a demand and I just didn't feel like obeying his demand. I was quite tired after spending a full day working.
The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute accepts people of any race. We don't discriminate against anyone. We teach people to reach their highest potential. I set examples by the way I lead my life.
Whatever my individual desires were to be free, I was not alone. There were many others who felt the same way.
All I was doing was trying to get home from work.
There is just so much hurt, disappointment, and oppression one can take... The line between reason and madness grows thinner.
I had felt for a long time that, if I was ever told to get up so a white person could sit, that I would refuse to do so.
At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.
I'm tired of being treated like a second-class citizen.
Have you ever been hurt and the place tries to heal a bit, and you just pull the scar off of it over and over again.
Let us look at Jim Crow for the criminal he is and what he has done to one life multiplied millions of times over these United States and the world. He walks us on a tightrope from birth.
I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.
As far back as I can remember, I knew there was something wrong with our way of life when people could be mistreated because of the color of their skin.
I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free... so other people would be also free.
Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.
Knowing what must be done does away with fear.
Each person must live their life as a model for others.
Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.