‘A White Man Took My Seat…’

AFRO Archived History

by: Al Sweeney AFRO Staff Writer
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62 years ago on Dec. 1 Rosa Parks helped spark a boycott movement when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a White man. One year after the event that lead to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the AFRO interviewed her exclusively.

March 3, 1956

MONTGOMERY, Ala.—“I don’t know what made me do it; but it seemed like something flashed through my mind that compelled me to remain glued to my seat.

“I wanted to see what would happen to me.”

It was Mrs. Rosa Parks talking as she recalled the night of Dec. 1, 1955.

She was seated on a Cleveland Ave. bus. It was crowded with evening rush-hour passengers.

The driver stopped the bus in front of the Empire Theatre and shouted back:

“’All right you folks, let me have the seats.’

“A man seated next to me and two women across the aisle gave up their seats. I remained seated.

“’Look woman. I told you I wanted the seat. If you don’t get up, I will call the police, he said.

“I told him to go on and call them.

“He did. When I got up a white man took my seat, because only white men were standing.

“After I got off the bus, the policeman asked the driver if he only wanted me to get off the bus or did he want to file a complaint.

“He said he would file it after he made his run. They took me to jail and locked me up until he made the complaint.

“After that I don’t know what happened. Things have happened to fast.”

“On Dec. 4 I was fined. On Dec. 5 the protest of my arrest began. That’s how it all started.”

Mrs. Parks stands 5-feet 4-inches tall. She wears smartly tailored suits.

When arrested she altered garments in the alteration department of one of Montgomery’s largest department stores: the Montgomery Fair.

“About a month and two days later,” she reveals, “I was told by the personnel manager they were going to close the alteration department so my services were no longer needed.”

She is married to R. A. Parks and resides at 634 Cleveland Ct.

Although a native of nearby Tuskegee, the 43-year-old matron has lived in Montgomery all of her life.

Retiring and perfectly poised, she doesn’t appear to fit the role in which she is now cast.

“The letters and words of cheer from all over the nation are wonderful,” she said.

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