When And How Did The Civil Rights Movement Begin?
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The Civil Rights movement began on December 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks (1913– ), a black seamstress, refused to cooperate with a segregation law. As she boarded a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama, she took a seat in the designated "black" rows in the back. When the bus filled up she was asked to move so that a white man could have her spot. She refused to give the man her seat and was then arrested. This event sparked what would become a national movement of resistance to racial segregation (separation of black people from white people) and discrimination. Local black leaders organized around Parks with Baptist minister Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968) as their leader. They decided to start a citywide boycott of the Montgomery bus system on December 5, 1955. The boycott lasted 382 days and ended only when the case had reached the Supreme Court, which ruled that segregation on buses was unconstitutional (against the law). This marked the first momentous victory of the Civil Rights movement.
Further Information: Ballard, Sara. Free at Last: A History of the Civil Rights Movement and Those who Died in the Struggle. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994; Parks, Rosa. Rosa Parks: My Story. New York: Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 1991; 4CivilRights.com. [Online] Available http://www.4civilrights.com/,4Civilrights, November 1, 2000.
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