Research Paper on Rosa Parks Essay

Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist who is world famous as the foremost woman of civil rights. She was awarded this name by United State Congress. 4th February [Her birthday] and 1st December [the date when she was imprisoned] both are now known as Rosa Parks Day. In 1955, she refused to follow the bus driver’s order and that was to allow a white passenger to take her seat. She protested against bus segregation. As a result she was arrested for her behavior and also she was charged to pay fines for violating ordinance of the city. But her silent act began a movement that was ended by the separation and legally segregation in America. She was against of racial segregation. She became an icon of Civil Rights Movement in the world scenario. She worked with the NAACP on many projects or cases. These cases include murder, rape, flogging etc. but did not get so much publicity on their work. In 1979, the NAACP awarded her by its highest honor which was Spingarn Medal. Apart from that she received so many awards such as in 1980 she received Martin Luther King Jr. Award and in 1995 Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award. Mrs. Parks spent her last few days in Detroit and died in 2005 at the age of 92. She is the one of those women whose courage has changed so many lives in the country (Parks and Haskins 28).

Research aims and objectives

This research study is based on an analysis that is to be conducted on the life history of Rosa Parks. The aim of a research study sets the mission that is to be achieved by the researcher through the study. The research aim should always be precise as it forms the basis on which the entire research study would be conducted. The major problem of the research that needs to be addressed by the study is to analyze the major factors that make Rosa Parks “The Mother of Modern – Day Civil Rights Movement”. The research aim of the study would be to address this research problem statement. Hence the research aim can be formulated such as – a research study that analyzes the entire life of Rosa Parks and to identify certain factors that in her that is incomparable and serves as a lesson to be learned by others. The research aim lays the foundation on basis of the objectives of the research can be formulated. The major research objectives of the study is-

To perform an analysis on the life history of Rosa Parks

To identify certain characteristics in Rosa Parks that made her achieve such a title of – The Mother of Modern – Day Civil Rights Movement”

To evaluate certain inspiring elements in her that can be learned by other individuals

Research Questions

The research questions forms the framework that needs to be followed by the researcher so that the analysis performed through the research study can derive appropriate results for the formulated questions. This study would be revolving around the life of Rosa Parks. The major research question for this study would be – “What does the life history of Rosa Parks indicates and what are some of the characteristics that are present in her that can be inspiring for other individuals?” This question would be the basis on which secondary analysis would be performed so that an appropriate outcome can be derived.

Literature Review

According to Carrillo (2012), Rosa Parks was born in the year 1913 in Albama and was daughter of a carpenter. She was an African-America activist of Civil Rights and on such a wide array of activities that she performed United State Congress regarded her as the first lady to start the freedom revolution. Rosa Parks always followed the principle that though opportunities would be few but every individual should make use of the available opportunities and try to change the lives of others (Carrillo 56). She was the first lady who stood for the civil rights and was not afraid to face any danger that would come her way while she was struggling with freedom movement. Though the cases she dealt with did not get publicized but she continued to be associated with cases of rape, flogging, murder, and peonage. According to Ford (2009), Rosa Parks did not expect that she would be getting a lot of success through such freedom movement but her major concern was to challenge the existing powers prevailing in the society and to make the higher authority understand that they cannot be treated as a second class citizen (Ford 113).

According to Haskins (2009), Rosa is an inspiration to those people who love the freedom of the nation. In 1977, after the death of her husband she founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development. This institute organizes an annual summer program especially for teenagers. This program is called Pathways to freedom. She was not the only person who was humiliated or mistreated. Most people were mistreated at that point of time even some of them faced worst situation than Rosa but only Rosa raised her voice and become a representative of those African-American people who got this kind of miss behaviors from the whites. Only she had that courage to say firmly that she did not want to be mistreated and she did not want to deprive from that sit for which she had paid. She utilized the opportunity to express her feelings about being treated in that worst manner. She played an important role in raising international awareness about the struggle of African-Americans and civil rights. At that time only she could think that the nation will be transformed.

According to Hanson (2011), Rosa was aware about the big differences between the blacks and whites from her school days, but she did not mistrust all white people. There was an old white woman who took her and gave company in the time of fishing. But later she took steps when blacks were targeted without any reason or without any crime or mistakes. Whites were always in justification and blacks got punished for major crimes to minor mistakes. She believed in democracy and saw dreams that the journey towards justice and equality for all will get success (Hanson 7).

According to Steele (2007), the event of Rosa Parks refusing to give her seat to a white passenger in the bus in which she as traveling caused the inception of the modern civil rights movement (Steele 96). At that time Rosa Parks was fined and arrested because she had violated the ordinance existing in the United States. However, Rosa Parks’ act was seen as an act of immense bravery and supportive of the right principles by most of the freedom loving citizens of the country. According to Drinkley (2008), there were no proper civil rights for the black people in the United States. The power lied on the hands of the white people and the civil rights were often in favor of the white citizens while the Afro American citizens were deprived of the basic freedom of rights and were also continuously treated in a judgmental and biased manner (Drinkley 512). The act of defiance and bravery displayed by Rosa Parks in the bus incident acted as a catalyst to start the civil rights movement which was the main driver of the legal segregation in the country in the 1960s. Rosa Parks was not the first black person who protested against the discrimination between the white and the black citizens. Before her, small protests had been raised by many other black natives of the country. Some other black natives of the country like Irene Morgan protested against the color discrimination and race discrimination in as early as 1946. Sarah Louise Keys was another protester who stood up against the discriminatory actions in 1955. Another important case against racial discrimination prevailing in the United States was the Browder Versus Gayle case which involved some other main protestors like Aurelia Browder, Claudette Colvin, Mary Louis Smith and Susie MacDonald. This case started few months before the incident of protest involving Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama. However, according to Reed and Parks (1997), Rosa Parks was the most suitable candidate for countering the court case against her placed on the basis of disobedience in civil terms (Reed and Parks 220). The organizers of National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NACCP) considered Rosa Parks to be the best and strongest candidate for seeing through this legal case. Though the NACCP widely supported Rosa Parks in the legal case, the case was subsequently moved out of the limelight when the Browder vs. Gayle legal case was heard in favor of the African American counterparts of the case. Though the Browder versus Gayle’s case was a more visible case with respect to the rights of African American citizens, yet the case of Rosa Parks was also an avid contributor to the desegregation of bus seats in the United States which was done earlier on the basis of color of the natives. The Browder versus Gayle case was heard in favor of the black people and was terminated with the order of desegregation of bus seats. It can be identified that not only the Browder’s virus Gayle’s case but also the Rosa parks case was sufficient in fuelling the civil rights movement in the United States of America which brought about a legal segregation in the city. At that time the differentiation in bus seats for the white and black citizens came under the law. Therefore, the protest by Rosa Parks was a punishable offence. However, Rosa Parks stood for her rights and strived to move the people towards a movement for the freedom of rights in the country. Rosa Parks subsequently became an icon and an idol for many natives in the country who aspired for freedom. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) which is an important organization in the United States for supporting the African American citizens of the country was an important supporter of Rosa Parks who gave them the platform to start her protests and work in the civil rights movement. Rosa Parks went on to start a major rights movement in the United States and was involved as a main spokesperson in the movement. Rosa parks went on to become a successful icon in the history of America. As listed in the Academy of Achievement (20080, Rosa Louise Parks received a number of prestigious awards for her work through her lifetime including the Presidential Medal for freedom and the Congressional Gold medal which was considered to be the most prestigious award of Congress at that time (Academy of Achievement 12).

Many authors have studied the personality and the role of Rosa Parks in the civil rights movement with the help of suitable models and theories. According to the work of Ledger (2005), Rosa Louise Parks was in the fifth stage of commitment and internationalization as defined by the Nigrescence model (Ledger 514). The Nigresence model is a theoretical model used to provide the underlying principles, ideas and rules that can be used to analyze and understand the meaning and implications of being the member of a racial team or group and also to analyze the importance of a race from the perspective of a country as well as the citizens. Rosa Parks can be identified to be in the fifth stage throughout her life because she had specifically set values and strongly established self-identity from an early age. These values and self-identity helped her in her lifelong fight for supporting the oppressed and discriminated people and becoming a renowned civil rights activist. According to Shores (2005), the work of Rosas Parks brought about the removal of segregation of people and rights on the basis of color and race and brought justice for the African American citizens (Shores 640).

Data Analysis and Interpretation

Suitable data collected from secondary sources like books, academic journals, published articles, biography of Rosa parks and the analysis done by academicians and practitioners have been analyzed and interpreted to evaluate the characteristics of Rosa Parks, her personality traits and her role in the American civil rights movement. The analysis suggests that Rosa Parks had certain inherent qualities and identified principles that helped her to become the icon in America and supported her activities in the civil rights movement. Rosa Parks was identified to have a strong personality and a self-established judgmental power which helped her to distinguish clearly between the acceptable and non-acceptable norms of the society. Rosa Parks was identified to be a woman of spirit and perseverance who managed to think in a justified manner about freedom and rights at a time when stringent rules were in place in the country. She strived to remove the discrimination made towards the African American natives because she could well recognize the segregation and also had the courage to stand up against the wrong norms established in the laws and the society. Rosa Parks is identified to be a commitment oriented personality according to the Nigrescence model of internalization, civil rights and commitment. The philosophy of racial and ethnic identity as followed by Rosa Parks can be identified by the use of the Nigerescence model as devised by William Cross. Rosa Parks is identified to be in the fifth stage of the model for racial identity which is supportive of her iconic role in the history of cvii rights movement in the United States of America. The fifth sage of the Nigresence model which is the internalization–commitment stage is characterized by the feelings of insecurity and inferiority among the black people being substituted by feelings of pride and love for the own identity of the black people. A person in this stage is expected to display a high level of enthusiasm, involvement and motivation towards activism. This is identified in the characteristics of Rosa parks. It can also be established that the role of Rosa parks as a time changing activist in the civil rights movement was fuelled by the same characteristics as can be identified in a person in the internalization commitment stage.


Rosa Louise Parks is identified to be a woman of great commitment and strong personality. Her lifetime achievements and immense contribution to the achievement of rights for the African American citizens of the United States is seen as a major achievement for the African American race. Rosa parks was an important contributor in the civil rights movement in the country which was a revolutionary movement for removing racial discrimination and for removing the long established unfair rules against the black people in the country. She is renowned as an iconic fig hue in the history of the Untied States due to her role as an activist in achieving modern civil rights for her counterparts and other African American natives in the country.

Works cited

Academy of Achievement. Rosa Parks Biography. 2008. Web. 28 May.2014. .

Carrillo. Karen, African American History Day by Day: A Reference Guide to Events. USA : ABC-CLIO. 2012. Print.

Drinkley, Douglas. Rosa Parks. Minnesota: Capstone. 2008. Print.

Ford. Lynne. Encyclopedia of Women and American Politics. USA: InfoBase Publishing. 2009. Print.

Hanson. Joyce, Rosa Parks: A Biography. USA: ABC-CLIO, 2011. Print.

Ledger, K. Rosa Parks. 2005. Web. 28 May. 2014.>.

Parks. Rosa and James Haskins, Rosa Parks: My Story. USA: Paw Prints, 2009. Print.

Reed, Gregory. & Rosa Parks. Dear Mrs. Parks: A dialogue with today’s youths. New York: Lee and Low Books. 1997. Print.

Shores, Erica. Rosa Parks: Civil Rights Pioneer. Minnesota: Capstone. 2005. Print.

Steele, Philip. Rosa Parks and her protest for civil rights. Vermont: Cherry tree books. 2007. Print.