The fingerprint card of Rosa Parks was produced in association with her arrest for refusing to obey orders of a bus driver on December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama.

Image by U.S. District Court for the Northern (Montgomery) Division of the Middle District of Alabama, courtesy National Archives

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  • On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, because she refused to give up her bus seat to another passenger. The other passenger was white and Parks was black. In 1955, the law in Alabama required African Americans to give up their seats to whites if the bus was full. Many reports say Parks was tired after a long day of work, a characterization Parks herself denied: “People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day . . . No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
    The African-American community in Montgomery, led by local ministers Ralph Abernathy and Martin Luther King, Jr., responded to Parks’ arrest by organizing a remarkable year-long bus boycott.
    In December 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court banned all segregation on public transportation. In 1999, the U.S. Congress recognized Parks as the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.”
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    civil rights movement Noun

    (~1954-1968) process to establish equal rights for all people in the United States, focusing on the rights of African Americans.

    community Noun

    group of organisms or a social group interacting in a specific region under similar environmental conditions.

    Congress Noun

    legislative branch of the government, responsible for making laws. The U.S. Congress has two bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    minister Noun

    the leader of an area of government. In the U.S., ministers are called secretaries.

    Montgomery Bus Boycott Noun

    (December 1, 1955December 20, 1956) protest to end discrimination on city buses that took the form of people in Montgomery, Alabama, refusing to ride buses until African Americans were given equal rights to seating.

    public transportation Noun

    methods of movement that are available to all community members for a fee, and which follow a fixed route and schedule: buses, subways, trains and ferries.

    remarkable Adjective

    unusual and dramatic.

    segregation Noun


    Supreme Court Noun

    highest judicial authority on issues of national or constitutional importance in the U.S.