CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It was a damp evening in Montgomery, Alabama, on Dec. 1, 1955, when a 43-year-old seamstress boarded a city bus to head home from work.
While Rosa Parks was secretary of the local NAACP chapter, she had no intention of raising a ruckus that night. But city law required that when white passengers boarded a bus and the only seats available were occupied by blacks, the black riders had to give up their seats and move to the back or stand.
“If you don’t get up, I’m gonna call the police,” the bus driver threatened after Parks refused to give up her seat as white passengers boarded the bus.
Parks said to go ahead and do just that. As the driver returned with two burly white officers, Parks said “Why do you always push us around?”
She was arrested and put in jail. And so commenced a 381-day bus boycott by black riders. In November of the next year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation on Montgomery’s buses was unconstitutional. Any bus rider could take whatever seat was available and there could no longer be any “white” and “black” sections on the bus, the court decreed.
Rosa Parks was one of the first blacks to ride the buses again. Time magazine reported that “she gazed peacefully out a bus window from a seat of her own choosing.”
Parks became an international civil rights icon and a hero to many, including Cora Lee Hairston of Logan.
But Hairston’s homage to that hero takes a quite active form — she does live portrayals of Parks and answers audience questions in the character of a woman the U.S. Congress called “the first lady of civil rights.”
Hairston, a 72-year-old musician, author and gospel music writer, is featured in “Rosa Parks Portrayal,” a free day-long Black History program at Museum in the Park at Chief Logan State Park, starting 9:30 a.m. Friday…