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 The U.S. Civil Rights Movement  
 
Parks and police official

Rosa Parks is fingerprinted at a police station after her arrest in Montgomery, Alabama.

On December 1, 1955, Parks, a department store seamstress, boarded a bus headed for home. When a white man boarded, four black passengers, including Parks, were asked to get up and stand in back. Three complied; Parks refused. She was arrested for breaking Alabama’s segregation laws.

She proved the perfect litigant in a legal test the movement’s leaders had been seeking. As the lawyers prepared for trial, teachers at Alabama State announced a boycott by blacks of the Montgomery bus system. The boycott lasted a year, causing crippling economic damage and testing the resolve of local blacks.

The legal fight rose through the U.S. judicial system to the Supreme Court, which upheld a federal court ruling that nullified Alabama’s and Montgomery’s requirements for segregation on buses. (Library of Congress)