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An Act of Protest: Rosa Parks in Her Own Words

How the ‘Mother of the Civil Rights Movement’ remembered her refusal to give up her bus seat 60 years ago

  • A photo and a hand written page that is part of a Rosa Parks archive
    Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

    Rosa Parks

    En español | Since that infamous bus ride on Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks’ story has been told many times, but rarely in her own words. Here are quotes from Parks throughout the years that speak to the event.

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  • Civil rights legend Rosa Parks was arrested aboard this Montgomery, Alabama, bus which is now at the The Henry Ford Museum
    Courtesy The Henry Ford Museum

    A Way of Life

    “I did not get on the bus to get arrested. I got on the bus to go home.”

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  • Rosa Parks sitting on the bus
    Underwood Archives/Getty Images

    A Seamstress by Trade

    “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.”

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  • Rosa Parks book: My Story
    Dial Books

    No More Tired Than Usual

    “We didn't have any civil rights. It was just a matter of survival, of existing from one day to the next. I remember going to sleep as a girl, hearing the Klan ride at night and hearing a lynching and being afraid the house would burn down.” (Rosa Parks, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Ralph Abernathy)

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  • Mrs Rosa Parks, a seamstress, being fingerprinted after her refusal to move to the back of a bus to accommodate a white passenger touched off the bus boycott, Montgomery, Alabama, 1956.
    Underwood Archives/Getty Images

    I Had No Idea

    “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.”  (Rosa Parks speaks at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., 1969)
     

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  • Rosa Parks mug shot
    Getty Images

    It Was Just Time

    “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.” (Actress Cicely Tyson presenting Rosa Parks with the Eleanor Roosevelt Woman of Courage Award, 1984)

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  • Rev. Martin Luther King outlines boycott strategies to his advisers & organizers incl. (seated L-R) Rev. Ralph Abernathy & Rosa Parks who was the catalyst for the protest of bus riders
    Don Cravens/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
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  • Remember the past, help shape the future.
    Robert Deutschman

    AARP Offer: Remember the past, help shape the future

    En español | Since that infamous bus ride on Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks’ story has been told many times, but rarely in her own words. Here are quotes from Parks throughout the years that speak to the event.

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  • Rosa Parks speaks at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 15, 1969.
    Joe Holloway, Jr./AP

    That Next Step

    En español | Since that infamous bus ride on Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks’ story has been told many times, but rarely in her own words. Here are quotes from Parks throughout the years that speak to the event.

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  • Civil rights leader Rosa Parks smiles while people gathered around her applaud at a ceremony held in her honor at the House of the Lord Church, Brooklyn, New York.
    Angel Franco/New York Times Co./Getty Images

    Looking Forward to a Better Day

    En español | Since that infamous bus ride on Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks’ story has been told many times, but rarely in her own words. Here are quotes from Parks throughout the years that speak to the event.

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  • Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks, (R), of Detroit shows off the Wonder Woman Foundation's special 1984 Eleanor Roosevelt Woman of Courage Award presented to her on November 14, 1984. At left is actress Cicely Tyson who presented the award. Parks was honored for her work in the Civil Rights movement.
    Corbis

    It’s Up to Us

    En español | Since that infamous bus ride on Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks’ story has been told many times, but rarely in her own words. Here are quotes from Parks throughout the years that speak to the event.

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  • President Bill Clinton gives Rosa Parks the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 9/14/1996
    courtesy White House

    Justice and Prosperity for All

    En español | Since that infamous bus ride on Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks’ story has been told many times, but rarely in her own words. Here are quotes from Parks throughout the years that speak to the event.

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  • AARP Baby Boomers (Sean McCabe)

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    En español | Since that infamous bus ride on Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks’ story has been told many times, but rarely in her own words. Here are quotes from Parks throughout the years that speak to the event.

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