Rosa Parks Day

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Rosa Parks Day
Rosa Parks
Montgomery Bus that made Rosa Parks notable
Rosa Parks in 1955 and the Montgomery Bus that made her notable
Observed byUnited States (California, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Oregon)
Significancein honor of Rosa Parks, a civil rights activist
DateFebruary 4 (California and Missouri) or December 1 (Ohio and Oregon)

Rosa Parks Day is a holiday in honor of the civil rights leader Rosa Parks, celebrated in the U.S. states of California and Missouri on her birthday, February 4, in Michigan on the first Monday after her birthday, and in Ohio and Oregon on the day she was arrested, December 1.

Rosa Parks Day was created by the Michigan State Legislature and first celebrated in 1998.[1] The California State Legislature followed suit in 2000.[2] The holiday was first designated in the U.S. state of Ohio championed by Joyce Beatty, advocate who helped Ohio's legislation pass to honor the late leader.[3] It is also celebrated by the Columbus Ohio bus system (COTA) with a special tribute to the late civil rights leader.[4] As of 2014, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon proclaimed Rosa Parks Day official in the state.[5] In 2014, Oregon governor John Kitzhaber declared that Oregon would celebrate its first Rosa Parks Day. In 2021, the Texas Legislature passed HB 3481, recognizing December 1 as Rosa Parks Day in the state.[6] After Juneteenth became a federal holiday, there are growing calls for this day to also be observed at the federal level. On September 3, 2021, HR 5111 proposes that this day be added to the list of federal holidays.[7]

Observances by state[edit]

State Current local observances notes
California The holiday was first observed on February 4, 2000, and every year thereafter, created by an act of the California legislature.[8]
Michigan The holiday is observed on the first Monday after February 4 with the first observance occurring on February 9, 1998.[1]
Missouri Rosa Parks Day made official February 4, 2015 by proclamation by Governor Jay Nixon.[9]
Alabama[10] Holiday is observed on December 1, the day Rosa Parks was arrested.[8] First celebrated in 2018
Tennessee[11] First celebrated in 2019

Observances by cities and counties[edit]

City State Date celebrated notes
Paterson[12][13] New Jersey December 1st First celebrated in 2021
Montgomery County[14] Alabama December 1st First celebrated in 2020
Montgomery County[15] Maryland December 1st First celebrated in 2020
Gainesville[16] Florida December 1st First celebrated in 2022
Huntsville[17] Alabama December 1st First celebrated in 2018


Seat layout on the bus where Parks sat, December 1, 1955

Rosa Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was a seamstress by profession; she was also the secretary for the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. Twelve years before her history-making arrest, Parks was stopped from boarding a city bus by driver James F. Blake, who ordered her to board at the back door and then drove off without her. Parks vowed never again to ride a bus driven by Blake. As a member of the NAACP, Parks was an investigator assigned to cases of sexual assault. In 1945, she was sent to Abbeville, Alabama, to investigate the gang rape of Recy Taylor. The protest that arose around the Taylor case was the first instance of a nationwide civil rights protest, and it laid the groundwork for the Montgomery bus boycott.[18]

In 1955, Parks completed a course in "Race Relations" at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee where nonviolent civil disobedience had been discussed as a tactic. On December 1, 1955, Parks was sitting in the frontmost row for black people. When a Caucasian man boarded the bus, the bus driver told everyone in her row to move back. At that moment, Parks realized that she was again on a bus driven by Blake. While all of the other black people in her row complied, Parks refused, and was arrested[19] for failing to obey the driver's seat assignments, as city ordinances did not explicitly mandate segregation but did give the bus driver authority to assign seats. Found guilty on December 5,[20] Parks was fined $10 plus a court cost of $4,[21] but she appealed.

Parks' action gained notoriety leading to the Montgomery bus boycott, which was a seminal event in the civil rights movement, and was a political and social protest campaign against the policy of racial segregation on the public transit system of Montgomery, Alabama. The campaign lasted from December 1, 1955, to December 20, 1956, when a federal ruling, Browder v. Gayle, took effect, and led to a United States Supreme Court decision that declared the Alabama and Montgomery laws requiring segregated buses to be unconstitutional.[22] Many important figures in the civil rights movement took part in the boycott, including Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy. The 381-day boycott almost bankrupted the bus company and effectively made segregation in buses unconstitutional and illegal.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Public Act 28 of 1997".
  2. ^ "ACR 116 Assembly Concurrent Resolution - CHAPTERED".
  3. ^ Ohio's Rosa Parks Day Placed into National Congressional Record, archived from the original on November 17, 2011
  4. ^ Exil, Sarai (5 December 2011). "COTA's Rosa Parks Day". City Year Columbus.
  5. ^ "Missouri celebrates Rosa Parks Day". Fox2now. February 4, 2014.
  6. ^ a b "HB 3481, 87th Regular Session". Legislative Reference Library of Texas. September 1, 2021. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  7. ^ Smith, Ralph R. (September 3, 2021). "Seeking Another Federal Holiday (and a Day Off for Federal Employees)".
  8. ^ a b "Rosa Parks Day – December 1". National Day Calendar. 8 December 2023.
  9. ^ "Rosa Parks to be honored by Missouri on Feb. 4th". Archived from the original on December 24, 2015. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  10. ^ "Mrs. Rosa L. Parks Day is December 1". Alabama Governor's Office of Volunteer Services.
  11. ^ Akbari, Raumesh; Karen Camper (December 1, 2020). "Tennessee's Rosa Parks Day reminds us of importance of Black women's achievement | Opinion". The Tennessean.
  12. ^ "Paterson officials declare Dec. 1 as 'Rosa Parks Day'". news12. Connecticut. December 1, 2021.
  13. ^ "Paterson honors Civil Rights icon with 'Rosa Parks Day' ceremony". abc7. Paterson, New Jersey. December 2, 2021.
  14. ^ "Montgomery to Remember Rosa Parks with Several Days of Events". Alabama News. November 30, 2021.
  15. ^ Bullock, Sydney (December 1, 2020). "Montgomery County Dedicates Dec. 1 as Rosa Parks Day". mymcm. Montgomery County.
  16. ^ Alachua Chronicle (December 1, 2022). "Gainesville City Commission Celebrates Rosa Parks Day".
  17. ^ "Huntsville commemorates Rosa Parks Day with special celebration". December 2022.
  18. ^ McGuire, Danielle L. (2010). At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance- A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power. Random House. p. 8 and 39. ISBN 978-0-307-26906-5.
  19. ^ "Rosa Park's arrest report" (PDF). December 1, 1955. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 13, 2013.
  20. ^ "Parks, Rosa Louise." Encyclopedia Americana. Grolier Online[permanent dead link] (accessed May 8, 2009).
  21. ^ Feeney, Mark (2005-10-25). "Rosa Parks, civil rights icon, dead at 92 - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2012-09-28.
  22. ^ "Montgomery Bus Boycott (Dec 5, 1955 — Dec 21, 1956)" ~ Civil Rights Movement Archive