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Dec. 1, 1955

Rosa Parks, the African-American civil rights activist, whose polite but adamant refusal to relinquish her ‘coloureds’ section seat so a standing white man could sit on a crowded Montgomery, Alabama city bus became an iconic moment in the civil rights movement and vaulted the quiet seamstress from anonymity to international recognition. Mrs. Parks was no accidental activist. She was already working for the NAACP. But her case and others, bus boycotts and marches, and courageous attempts by black children to attend all-white schools eventually swept away the vast repressive web of lawful Jim Crow segregation law. Fired from her job and unable to find work, Ms. Parks & her husband moved to Detroit two years after her arrest in Montgomery. On her death, a half-century after the iconic moment of quiet defiance, she became the first woman to lie in honour in the U.S. Capitol and the nations’ flags few at half-staff.

Rosa Parks sits in the front of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, after the Supreme Court ruled segregation illegal on the city bus system on Dec. 21, 1956. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

Parks is fingerprinted by Deputy Sheriff D.H. Lackey in Montgomery, Alabama Feb. 22, 1956 when she was among some 100 people charged with violating segregation laws. (AP Photo/Gene Herrick)

Montgomery Sheriff's Department booking photo of Rosa Parks taken Feb. 22, 1956. Parks was among some 100 people charged with violating segregation laws. (AP Photo/Montgomery County Sheriff's office)

American Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks (center, in dark coat and hat) waits to board a bus at the end of the Montgomery bus boycott, Dec. 26, 1956. (Photo by Don Cravens/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

"Day of Pilgrimage" protest begins with black Montgomery citizens walking to work, part of their boycott of buses in the wake of the Rosa Parks incident. Montgomery, Alabama February 1956. (Photo by Grey Villet/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Parks receives a round of applause from fellow civil rights leaders as she walks across the stage at a gathering at Montgomery's State Capital following the Selma to Montgomery march, late March 1965. (Photo by Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images)

Rosa Parks (centre) rides on a newly integrated bus following the Supreme Court ruling ending a 381 day boycott of segregated buses. (Photo by Don Cravens/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)