Contrary to the Oct. 31 front-page headline "She Made It Clear That One Person Could Make a Difference," Rosa Parks's courage sparked the civil rights movement because she had the support of her community.
While other African Americans before her had refused to surrender their seats on crowded public buses to accommodate white passengers, the black community was not organized to conduct a 381-day bus boycott before Mrs. Parks refused to move. Claudette Colvin refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger on March 2, 1955, in Montgomery, Ala., nine months before Rosa Parks's action, and Irene Morgan made a similar protest on a Greyhound bus in Middlesex County, Va., as she was traveling to a doctor's appointment in Baltimore in 1944. While myth has it that Mrs. Parks refused to move because she was a tired seamstress, she was the secretary of the NAACP in Montgomery and committed to the civil rights movement before she refused to give up her seat.
The lesson is not that one person can make a difference, but that solidarity is necessary to overcome racism and social injustice.
Center on Disability and Health