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Most historians date the beginning of the modern civil rights movement in the United States to December 1 1955 That was the day when an unknown seamstress in Montgomery Alabama refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger This brave woman Rosa Parks was arrested and fined for violating a city ordinance but her lonely act of defiance began a movement that ended legal segregation in America and made her an inspiration to freedom-loving people everywhere Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley in Tuskegee Alabama After attending Alabama State Teachers College the young Rosa settled in Montgomery with her husband Raymond Parks The couple joined the local chapter of the NAACP and worked quietly for many years to improve the lot of African-Americans in the segregated south The bus incident led to the formation of the Montgomery Improvement Association led by the young pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church Dr Martin Luther King Jr The association called for a boycott of the city-owned bus company The boycott lasted 382 days and brought Mrs Parks Dr King and their cause to the attention of the world A Supreme Court Decision struck down the Montgomery ordinance under which Mrs Parks had been fined and outlawed racial segregation on public transportation In 1957 Mrs Parks and her husband moved to Detroit Michigan where Mrs Parks served on the staff of US Representative John Conyers The Southern Christian Leadership Council established an annual Rosa Parks Freedom Award in her honor After the death of her husband in 1977 Mrs Parks founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development The Institute sponsors an annual summer program for teenagers called Pathways to Freedom The young people tour the country in buses under adult supervision learning the history of their country and of the civil rights movement President Clinton presented Rosa Parks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 She received a
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