Rosa Parks, civil rights heroine, dies at 92
This mild-mannered black woman refused to give up her seat on a city bus so a white man could sit down.
Jim Crow laws had met their match.
Parks' refusal infused 50,000 blacks in Montgomery with the will to walk rather than risk daily humiliation on the city's buses.
In one of her last lengthy interviews with the Detroit Free Press in 1995, she spoke of what she would like people to say about her after she passed away.
"I'd like people to say I'm a person who always wanted to be free and wanted it not only for myself; freedom is for all human beings," she said during an interview from the pastor's study of St. Matthew African Methodist Episcopal Church, a small congregation she joined upon moving to Detroit in 1957.
While it's known worldwide that her refusal to give up her bus seat sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, it's less well known that Parks had a long history of trying to make life better for black people.
It was a desire embedded in her from childhood by her grandfather - her mother's father with whom she lived when she was growing up. He taught his children and grandchildren not to put up with mistreatment. "It was passed down almost in our genes," Parks wrote in her 1992 autobiography, "My Story." (Puffin, $5.99)
She recalled that when her grandfather was home, he kept a shotgun by his side in case the Ku Klux Klan dropped by.
Of her grandfather, Sylvester Edwards, she wrote: "I remember that sometimes he would call white men by their first names, or their whole names, and not say, 'Mister.' How he survived doing all those kinds of things, and being so outspoken, talking that big talk, I don't know, unless it was because he was so white and so close to being one of them."
Her grandfather's father was a white plantation owner; his mother a slave housekeeper and seamstress.
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