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During Black History Month, sharing wise words from changemakers, thought leaders, trailblazers, and influential individuals within the community is a great way to celebrate and honor the sacrifices and contributions of African Americans. For those seeking insightful Black History Month quotes to read, share, or post on social media — perhaps in honor of Rosa Parks Day on February 4 (her birthday), or to reflect on any day of the year — it doesn’t get better than these powerfulRosa Park quotes. Affectionately known as the "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement," Parks is an American icon — and for good reason.
On December 1, 1955, the 42-year-old was headed home from her job as a seamstress at Montgomery Fair department store in her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama when she made history. After she boarded the bus and took a seat, she and the three others in her row were told by the driver to stand up and move to the back, making more seats for white passengers as the bus filled.
Famously, Parks refused to vacate the seat. Her courageous act of defiance resulted in her being arrested and later found guilty of disorderly conduct. In addition to the arrest, she lost her job as a seamstress and her husband also lost his job after being forbidden from talking about the legal case. Although Parks' brave actions landed her behind bars, her impact sparked change and catapulted her into history books. Taking a stand against the segregation laws, Parks inspired the African American community to boycott buses for 381 days, which became known as the Montgomery Bus Boycott — and was led by newcomer Martin Luther King, Jr.
For the remainder of her life, she continued to fight against racial prejudice and discrimination. Although Parks passed away in 2005, her legacy lives on. Just like her unprecedented actions and undeniable courage influenced society, let these inspirational Rosa Parks quotes serve as a reminder to always fight for what’s right.
1.“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
— Quiet Strength: the Faith, the Hope, and the Heart of a Woman Who Changed a Nation by Rosa Parks with Gregory J. Reed
2. “I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people.”
— Rosa Parks on her 77th birthday
3. “Differences of race, nationality or religion should not be used to deny any human being citizenship rights or privileges. Life is to be lived to its fullest so that death is just another chapter. Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.”
— Life magazine, 1988
4. “Whatever my individual desires were to be free, I was not alone. There were many others who felt the same way.”
— Quoted in Refuse to Stand Silently by: An Oral History of Grass Roots Social Activism in America, 1921-64
5. “Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.”
— In conversation with Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy at a celebration of her life at Howard University in 1998
6. “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” — Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks and James Haskin
7. “I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.”
— 1987 PBS documentary, Eyes on the Prize
8. “I don't think well of people who are prejudiced against people because of race. The only way for prejudiced people to change is for them to decide for themselves that all human beings should be treated fairly. We can't force them to think that way.”
— In answer to the question from a student, "How do you feel about the people who treated you so unfairly?
9. “As far back as I can remember, I knew there was something wrong with our way of life when people could be mistreated because of the color of their skin.”
— NAACP meeting in Baltimore, October 1956
10. “Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.”
11. “There is just so much hurt, disappointment and oppression one can take. The bubble of life grows larger. The line between reason and madness grows thinner.”
— Written in a personal letter
12. “I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time... there was an opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn't hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became.”
— 1992 NPR interview with Lynn Neary
13. “I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.” — Life magazine, 1988
14. “God has always given me the strength to say what is right... I had the strength of God and my ancestors with me.”
— Quoted in The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis
15. “From my upbringing and the Bible I learned people should stand up for rights just as the children of Israel stood up to the Pharaoh.”
— Quoted in The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theohari
16. “Each person must live their life as a model for others.”
17. “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.”
18. "There were times when it would have been easy to fall apart or to go in the opposite direction, but somehow I felt that if I took one more step, someone would come along to join me."
— Published by Chicago Tribune
19. “At the time I was arrested, I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.”
— Published by USA Today
20. “I felt the Lord would give me the strength to endure whatever I had to face. God did away with all my fear.”
— Quiet Strength: The Faith, the Hope and the Heart of a Woman Who Changed a Nation
21. “I do the very best I can to look upon life with optimism and hope and looking forward to a better day, but I don’t think there is any such thing as complete happiness. It pains me that there is still a lot of Klan activity and racism. I think when you say you’re happy, you have everything that you need and everything that you want, and nothing more to wish for. I haven’t reached that stage yet.”
— In answer to the question of whether she was happy living in retirement
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