Rosa Parks Refused to Give Up Her Seat 65 Years Ago, and Her Civil Rights Contributions Go On

Over half a century after her historic decision not to give up her seat to a white man on an Alabama bus, Rosa Parks is still best remembered for starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott on December 1, 1955. While she is one of the most iconic figures of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, many of her other contributions don't get nearly as much recognition.

For refusing to give up her seat, Parks was arrested, convicted and fined, for defying the segregation laws. The boycott that was sparked from her small act of protest led Black Montgomery residents to stop riding the bus for 381 days.

Parks died at 92 in 2005 in her home in Detroit.

Despite being one of the most famous figures from the Civil Rights movement, many of her other efforts and accomplishments trying to reach racial equality often get glossed over.

The Scottsboro Boys

According to her bio from the Rosa Parks Institute for Self-Development, one of Parks' earliest efforts in the Civil Rights movement was joining the NAACP, along with her husband Raymond, advocating to free the Scottsboro Boys, nine Black teens, who were accused of raping two white women in 1931. After multiple appeals and trials, four of the men had their charges dropped. Others were later released or escaped from prison.

Parks and her husband were very active in the NAACP, with Parks working as a secretary and a youth leader. Parks' involvement with the NAACP made her a well-known local leader.

Working to help Black sexual assault survivors

Parks was an advocate for Recy Taylor, a Black woman who was kidnapped and raped by six white men in 1944. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Parks created the Alabama Committee for Equal Justice to try to prosecute the men. One confessed, but none were indicted. It wasn't until 2011, when the Alabama legislature released a formal apology to Taylor for the "lack of prosecution" against the men who attacked Taylor.

Support for Shirley Chisholm

According to the Library of Congress, Parks supported New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who was the first Black woman to be elected to Congress. Chisholm also ran for president in 1972, which Parks also supported her also.

Aide to John Conyers

Parks was hired by Detroit Congressman John Conyers in 1965 as a receptionist and administrative assistant, where she worked until her 1988 retirement. Photos from the Library of Congress show Parks protesting General Motors with Conyers before he was elected in 1964.

At the time of her death, Conyers released a statement praising the work she'd done. "It was important to her that people understand the government and to understand their rights and the Constitution that people are still trying to perfect today," he said in a statement, according to The Nation.

Public Appearances Supporting Black Power

According to a biography by Jeanne Theoharis, Parks advocated for after-school programs that taught Black history and culture. She attended the 1968 Philadelphia Black Power conference with Stokely Carmichael and the Black Political Convention in 1972 in Gary, Indiana. She even met with activist Malcolm X on multiple occasions.

Planned Parenthood

Besides being an advocate for the Civil Rights movement, Parks was also prominent in organizations that promoted women's and reproductive rights. According to the Library of Congress, she was a member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Conservative watchdog Right Wing Watch, also noted that she was a board member for Planned Parenthood.

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks seated toward the front of the bus, Montgomery, Alabama, 1956. Underwood Archives/Getty