Rosa Parks's Bus Ride Shook a Nation's Conscience





She was the perfect test-case plaintiff, a fact that activists realized only after she had been arrested. Hardworking, polite and morally upright, Parks had long seethed over the everyday indignities of segregation, from the menial rules of bus seating and store entrances to the mortal societal endorsement of lynching and imprisonment.

She was an activist already, secretary of the local chapter of the NAACP. A member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church all her life, Parks admired the self-help philosophy of Booker T. Washington -- to a point. But even as a child, she thought accommodating segregation was the wrong philosophy. She knew that in the previous year, two other women had been arrested for the same offense, but neither was deemed right to handle the role that was sure to become one of the most controversial of the century.



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