Parks, Rosa Louise, 1913–2005, American civil-rights activist, b. Tuskegee, Ala., as Rosa Louise McCauley. A seamstress and long-time activist-member of the Montgomery, Ala., chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), she sparked the Montgomery bus boycott with her Dec. 1, 1955, arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a municipal bus to a white man. This successful protest, which lasted just over a year, marked the emergence of Martin Luther King , Jr., to national prominence as a civil-rights leader and provided the model for future nonviolent movement actions. Fired from her job and unable to find work, Parks moved in 1957 to Detroit, where she remained active in the civil-rights movement and worked (1965–88) as an aide to U.S. Representative John Conyers. She was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, Congresss highest honor, in 1999.
See her autobiography (1992) biography by D. Brinkley (2000) and J. Theoharis (2013).