Rosa Parks, 81, Civil Rights Pioneer, Assaulted in Home

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man sparked the modern civil rights movement, was assaulted by an intruder at her home Tuesday night.

Parks, 81, was taken to Detroit Receiving Hospital, where she was treated for swelling on the right side of her face and possible chest bruises. She was later released.

Parks was upstairs in her home when she heard a noise downstairs, said Police Chief Isaiah McKinnon. When she went down to investigate, a man was inside her house, reeking of alcohol, the chief said.

Her back door had been knocked off its hinges. The man told her someone else had knocked down the door and he was there to protect her, and then he hit her, McKinnon said.


The assailant fled on foot with about $50, McKinnon said. No arrest had been made by late Tuesday.

‘You would hope that wouldn’t happen to anyone,” said Cliff Russell, a spokesman for Mayor Dennis Archer. “I don’t know what to say about anyone who would do something like that to Rosa Parks.”

Parks was 42 when she committed an act of defiance that was to earn her the title “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.”

At that time, Jim Crow laws enacted after the post-Civil War Reconstruction required separation of the races in buses, restaurants and public accommodations throughout the South.

The Montgomery, Ala., seamstress, an active member of the local chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, was riding on a city bus Dec. 1, 1955, when a white man demanded her seat.

Parks refused, despite rules requiring blacks to yield their seats to whites, and was jailed. Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus line, which resulted in the desegregation of the buses.

The Montgomery bus boycott, which came one year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark declaration that separate schools for blacks and whites were inherently unequal, marked the start of the modern civil rights movement.

Parks moved to Detroit in 1957. She worked as an aide to Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) from 1965 until retiring in 1988.