Rosa Parks: The misdemeanor that sparked a movement Rosa Parks, whose refusal to move to the back of a bus, touched off the Montgomery bus boycott and the beginning of the civil rights movement, is fingerprinted by police Lt. D.H. Lackey in Montgomery, Ala., Feb. 22, 1956. She was among some 100 people charged with violating segregation laws. (AP Photo/Gene Herrick/Troy Glasgow)
Rosa Parks: The misdemeanor that sparked a movement
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William Pretzer was 5 years old when Rosa Parks was arrested. It was December 1, 1955. The 42-year-old seamstress lived in Montgomery, Alabama.  She was riding on a city bus. She was en route home after a day's work. She refused to give her seat to a white passenger.
 
The full import of the event did not register with Pretzer. After all, he was so young and lived more than 2,000 miles away in Sacramento, California. To be honest, it would take time for most people to gain enough perspective to see the protest for what it was. Today it is cited as the beginning of the civil rights movement in the United States. Parks now is known as the movement's so-called "mother."
 
Even now, as he looks over Parks' police report and fingerprints, Pretzer, is struck by the documents. He is a senior curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. It is in Washington.
 
"There is nothing that makes this event look extraordinary," he says. "It is being treated as a typical misdemeanor violation of the city code. In fact, that is exactly what it was."
 
Yet, while police dealt with the situation just like any other altercation on the city's segregated buses, Parks, her attorneys and NAACP leaders organized.
 
"Within the African American community, it is seen as an opportunity for progress to be made, for attention and pressure to be brought to bear on the white power structure," says Pretzer.
 
Parks' act of defiance inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This event helped Martin Luther King, Jr. emerge as a civil rights leader. The boycott lasted 381 days. On the 382nd day, backed by a Supreme Court ruling, the city's buses were officially integrated.
 
By Pretzer's definition, Parks is a history maker.
 
"History makers are those that sense the moment," he says.
 
Pretzer studied Parks' story in detail in the early 2000s. That is when he helped Detroit's Henry Ford Museum, where he worked for more than 20 years, acquire the retired bus in which the incident occurred.
 
Explore an analysis of Rosa Parks' arrest records, based on a conversation with Pretzer and information conveyed in Parks' 1992 autobiography Rosa Parks: My Story.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is it important to explore the arrest records of Rosa Parks?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (160)
  • nataliep1-dal
    11/28/2016 - 11:07 a.m.

    I think that she was really strong . If this did not happen the world would still the same right when that happen . Maybe Martian luther king jr. would not get the encouragement to give I have dream speech or make the civil rights moment . so I think that when she said no it gave some thing to Martian luther king jr. so he can stand up to his people so we can all be equal .

  • ashleyr-dal
    11/28/2016 - 11:10 a.m.

    well i think it is important because it is telling you all her past and that she did not let anyone go over her and then she got arrested but she probably thought that it was unfair for white people to sit in front and black on the back i mean it fair but then that helped luther king jr to emerge as civil rights leader.

  • connerf-dal
    11/28/2016 - 11:13 a.m.

    I think it was cool that Rosa Parks didn't give up the seat to that guy or girl.She didn't care that she might go to jail she wanted civil rights and so did outer AfricanAmericans.Like Martin Luther King, Jr.

    It's important to explore the arrest records of Rosa Parks because.It can teach allot of people on how bad it was back then.She is a hero to allot of people I bet.

    But now it's not as bad but still bad.Because people make fun of echoer because of skin collier.

  • alext-dal
    11/28/2016 - 11:14 a.m.

    I think this article was very interesting because Rosa Parks refuesed to give her seat up to a american so she got arrested.I think Rosa Parks was very brave to not give up her seat.I think it was wrong to arrest Rosa Parks because she stood up and did not give her seat up to a american and I think she did that to say American people are just important as african american people.

  • kyleec-bur
    11/28/2016 - 11:17 a.m.

    We should look at her arrest records so we can see what she did or how long she's been in jail for. Like when you look up people on the internet it will tell you stuff about them. Like how old are they or if they have a criminal record. I have some family that's in jail right now.

  • samirs-bur
    11/28/2016 - 11:19 a.m.

    She has made history before I was born and that's why its so unfair because she was held for along time just for sitting in a white mans spot .

  • noemig-bur
    11/28/2016 - 11:19 a.m.

    When I was in fourth grade Mrs. Davis had us learn about her and till this day I still can't believe how incredibly brave she was

  • alonad-bur
    11/28/2016 - 11:20 a.m.

    I think that this article really tells you a little bit more about what's going on, and I do think Rosa parks was a inspiration to the African American community.

  • brianac-bur
    11/28/2016 - 11:22 a.m.

    it's important to explore the arrest records because, some people want to know how life was back then and ,for kids in school to learn about her and how she got arrested and maybe back then and, some people might have made a mistake in the records.

  • loganf1-bur
    11/28/2016 - 11:23 a.m.

    Well I think it is important because it is telling all her past and that she did not let anyone to go over her and then she got arrested.

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