Rosa Parks, at 82 years old, talks about her refusal to give up her seat on a bus to white passengers.
Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words
TOM BROKAW, anchor:
Now to one of the most memorable Americans ever to confront the issue of racial segregation head on in this country. Forty years ago, Rosa Parks, who, in refusing to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man, became the mother superior of the civil rights movement. This week, at the age of 82, she's traveling this country with a group of students. Her story and what she is telling them, IN HER OWN WORDS tonight.
Ms. ROSA PARKS: I remember well being these struggles that we went through during my childhood when the Ku Klux Klan was very active. It just made us stronger to continue the struggle for freedom.
This is the seat that I took as I got on the bus. A few white people boarded the bus, and one man was left standing. And I certainly did not plan to stand up. And I wa--didn't consider myself breaking the law because I was in what was supposed to be our part of the bus.
So, my arrest brought about a protest from the people of Montgomery that lasted 381 days. And when we did go back on the bus, we didn't—the Supreme Court had handed down a decision that there would be no more racial segregation in transportation.
Ms. PARKS: When I was on the bus at the time I was arrested, the only thing that was on my mind was that I did not want to be treated in that way.
Pastor BILL ADKINS (Greater Miami Church, Memphis): It took her, sitting down, to get a people to stand up. And we can never, ever, ever forget her for that.
BROKAW: That happened to Rosa Parks in 1955. Just one more reminder that the happy-go-lucky '50s were not at all what they seemed to be in the rose-colored glasses of our memories.
Synopsis: In 1955, civil rights activist Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus. Her action spurred African Americans to boycott, or refuse to ride, city buses. This boycott in turn started a successful nationwide campaign to end segregation of public buildings and buses.