Parks, Rosa,

in full ROSA LOUISE MCCAULEY PARKS (b. Feb. 4, 1913, Tuskegee, Ala., U.S.), black American civil rights activist whose refusal to relinquish her seat on a public bus to a white man precipitated the 1955 Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott, recognized as the spark that ignited the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

Parks attended Alabama State College (now Alabama State University) and made her living as a seamstress. She was active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Montgomery (1943-56). Parks's arrest on Dec. 1, 1955, for violating Montgomery's segregated seating laws led to an organized boycott of city buses by blacks, who constituted 70 percent of the riders. It was as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, which organized the boycott, that Martin Luther King, Jr., first came to national prominence. The boycott continued for 381 days, until Dec. 20, 1956, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court's decision declaring Montgomery's segregated seating unconstitutional.

In 1957 Parks moved with her husband and mother to Detroit, where from 1965 to 1988 she was a member of the staff of Michigan congressman John Conyers, Jr. She remained active in the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1987 she founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, a youth organization. Her autobiography, Rosa Parks: My Story (1993), was written with Jim Haskins.