On February 4th 2021, the nation can pause to remember how a simple act of a seamstress refusing to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus launched nationwide efforts to end racial segregation of public facilities.
At the time, Blacks were not only forced into a segregated area of public transportation but also were required to give up their seats to allow white passengers to sit down when buses were full, according to the Library of Congress.
On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks was arrested, and in only four days, convicted of disorderly conduct. Her arrest started a bus boycott that lasted longer than a year, organized by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, CNN reported.
The 381-day boycott eventually led to a Supreme Court ruling desegregating public transportation in Montgomery but it took almost a decade, until the 1964 Civil Rights Act, that full, nationwide desegregation was signed into law.
In a book published in 1994 in which Parks talked about her historic moment, she said “I did not get on the bus to get arrested; I got on the bus to go home.”
Sixty-five years to the day, a single seat on every bus in Knoxville, Alabama, is being left empty, saved in memory of Parks, WBIR reported.
“Rosa Parks’ seemingly small act of courage in the fight for racial justice had enormous consequences,” Issac Thorne, Knoxville’s director of transit, told WBIR. “We honor that courage and the work of past civil rights leaders while recognizing the responsibility we all have to continue to advance efforts to achieve racial equity across our city and our nation.”
Parks died in 2005 at the age of 92.
There are actually two days when Parks is remembered: Dec. 1, the day she was arrested and Feb. 4, her birthday, according to National Day Calendar.