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1021101

Rosa Parks

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Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, 1913-2005.  American Civil Rights icon.  Framed photograph inscribed with a Biblical quotation, signed Rosa Parks, and dated 3/21/95.

This is a magnificent 9½” x 10” black-and-white lithograph photo of Parks, whom the United States Congress acknowledged as the “first lady of civil rights” and the “mother of the freedom movement.”  She has boldly signed the photo with a 3” signature at the upper left, opposite her handwritten quotation from Psalm 27:1:  “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Parks, a black woman, became renowned for her courage in defying the orders of a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus driver to give up her seat to a white man—action that spawned the Montgomery Bus Boycott and catapulted a young and mostly unknown minister, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, to the forefront of the Civil Rights movement.

Montgomery’s bus regulations reserved the first four rows of seats for white passengers, while “colored” sections, designated by movable signs, were generally in the back.  Blacks could sit in the middle section but could not sit across the aisle from whites.  If the white section became full, blacks had to move to the rear, stand, or leave the bus.  The driver had the authority to move the “colored” section sign toward the back or remove it altogether.  That was true although some 75% of bus passengers were black.

On December 1, 1955, Parks took the bus home after work.  She sat in the designated “colored” section behind the last row of seats reserved for whites.  When the bus took on several white passengers at the third stop, the driver noticed that the white section was full but that a few white passengers were standing, so he moved the sign to the row behind Parks and ordered the four blacks who occupied her row to move.  When Parks refused, she was arrested.

The African-American community organized a bus boycott  for December 5.  The boycott was successful, but black leaders decided that they needed a new organization to lead the effort if it were to continue.  They created the Montgomery Improvement Association and elected King as its president.  The Association led a larger boycott that the black community made stick.  Some 40,000 black commuters used carpools, took black-operated cabs that charged the same 10¢ fare as the bus, or simply walked.  The boycott lasted 381 days, idling dozens of Montgomery buses and crippling the transit system’s finances, until Montgomery changed its ordinance requiring segregation on public buses.

Late in life, Parks received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.  In 1999, Time magazine named her one of the 20 most influential and iconic figures of the 20th Century.  On December 1, 2005, the 50th anniversary of her arrest, Congress directed that a statue of Parks be placed in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol.

This photograph has been tastefully double matted in black.  It is framed in a simple black wood frame to an overall size of 14¾” x 15¼”.  We have not examined the piece out of the frame and cannot tell whether the framing is archival, but the photograph itself appears to be in fine to very fine condition.  It is an outstanding piece for any African-American or Civil Rights collection.

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