It took me a little while to even select a famous person from the media, because I am not too big on watching much of anything on television except the local news and cartoons with my son. However, I decided to use one of the most courageous women I have ever learned about, and who made a big change for a lot of people from one simple little act.
I decided to write about Rosa Parks. Parks was born on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama to a carpenter, James McCauley and a teacher, Leona McCauley. She moved to Pine Level, Alabama at age two and resided with her mother and younger brother on her grandparent’s farm. At the age of eleven she began attending the Montgomery Industrial School for girls, which was a private school founded by liberal-minded women from the northern United States.
Her mother’s advice was the same as the Montgomery Industrial School’s philosophy of self-worth “take advantage of the opportunities, no matter how few they were”. Parks grew up in a time where there was no equality for minorities, so there were very few opportunities available back then. In an interview Parks made the statement “Back then, we didn’t have any civil rights. It was just a matter of survival, of existing from one day to the next”.
Rosa went on to Alabama State Teachers College to further her education then settled with her husband Raymond Parks who was a barber in Montgomery Alabama. Together her and her husband joined their local chapter of the NAACP, and worked quietly for many years trying to improve the lives of the African-Americans who were considered to be second class citizens. They worked on many cases with the NAACP, but no of them ever gained publicity, including ones of rape and murder.
At this time of segregation, laws required African-Americans to use the restrooms for “colored people”, as well as drink from different water fountains and use different entrances to restaurants and buses than those of Caucasian or “white people”. In Montgomery, Alabama it was required for African American bus riders to board in the front of the bus and pay, then to exit and enter from the rear of the bus. Sometimes, even after one had paid, the bus would drive off without them.
That was until December 1, 1955 when Parks an unknown seamstress at that time refused to give up her seat on the bus to another passenger who was white. The bus driver called the police and had her arrested, and she was then tried and convicted of violating a local ordinance. This incident involving her refusal to give up her seat along with her arrest led to the formation of the Montgomery Improvement Association, which was led by the young pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, better known today Dr. Martin Luther King.
The association called for a boycott of the city-owned bus company, which lasted a total of 382 days and was brought to the attention of the world. A Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation on public transportation.
Rosa Parks was named the ‘mother of the civil rights movement” and considered to among the most important citizen of the 20th century. Most historians date the beginning of the modern civil rights movement to the very day Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus.
It is amazing to me the courage and inspiration this women had to people all over the world. When looking at the three motivational views and trying to understand and make sense of her reasoning and choice in refusing to give up her seat, I find that the humanistic and diversity views fit the best for her situation.
The humanistic view of motivation suggests that the primary motivator is the striving to actualize and perfect the self. I believe that this view fits with the situation in her working with the NAACP, refusing to give up her seat, and continuing on…