Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was working on a dress, for personal use, during the historical 381 day Montgomery Bus Boycott; donated from the “Black Fashion Museum” founded by Lois K. Alexander-Laneto the National Museum American African History & Culture (NMAAHC).
The mustard and gray shawl-collar dress highlighted a crossover front bodice with a floral and leaf pattern printed on viscose (rayon), and it will be on view when the museum opens in 2015.
Mrs. Parks was on her way home from a Montgomery Department Store where she worked as a seamstress, because she was simply tired … she changed the world. The Rosa Parks bus protest marked the beginning of a nationwide “freedom movement” and launched the career of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks with four other people were sitting in the front seats of the black section of the bus. Then more white passengers climbed onto the bus, the driver moved the board back and asked these four to get up. The other three complied, but Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. The driver called the police and had her arrested.
In the south, the metro bus systems, adopted a hierarchy in seat arrangements on public transport buses. The front four rows of seats reserved for white people, and the rest deemed for the black people. A movable flat board lay on the floor indicating the sections reserved for each color.
When the number of white people on the bus increased, the board would move back, and additional seats would become available for the white people. The black people in those seats had to move to the back of the bus, stand or leave the bus; however, Mrs. Parks was just too tired … of it all … and a long bus boycott soon followed.
On November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court deemed racial segregation on buses to be unconstitutional, and the order reached Montgomery in December 1956, the 381 days bus boycott ended the next day.
Throughout the trial and beyond, Rosa and Raymond Parks, NAACP fellow members, and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. suffered vicious attacks from segregationists.
Unfortunately, life for Rosa and Raymond Parks became a struggle, because they both lost their jobs. After the trial, they relocated in Hampton, Virginia and then to Detroit. Rosa Parks’ (the mother of civil rights) is a woman who had the vigor and courage to stay seated for … “equality to all” and she created a beautiful dress.