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Blake Versus Parks

Rosa Parks, with Martin Luther King in the background, photographed in about 1955

1955: Driver Jim Blake must have thought he was simply enforcing regulations when he ordered four black passengers on his bus in Montgomery, Alabama, to give up their seats for a white man. Instead, Blake’s action on the afternoon of 1 December provoked the Montgomery bus boycott, a milestone in the American civil rights movement.

“Y’all better make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats,” Blake said to the four blacks. Three of them complied. The fourth, a 42-year-old seamstress named Rosa Parks, stayed put.

Blake moved towards her. “Are you going to stand up?”


“Well, I’m going to have you arrested.”

“You may do that,” Parks softly said.

Source: Douglas Brinkley, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: The Life of Rosa Parks (2000), pp. 104–7

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