Interview with Rosa Parks


Rosa Parks:

Well, as I said before to you, it was not a matter or me deciding that day, because for a long—over a period of time, over the years, I had, had problems with the bus drivers and this one who had me arrested on that day was the same one who had evicted me from the bus In 1943, which did not cause anything more than just hardly a passing glance, but I did have to leave the bus and find another way of transportation home or wait for another bus or walk, I don't remember which I did. I had finished my days work as a tailor's assistant in the Montgomery Fair department store and when I was on my way home, I noticed the first bus was very crowded, even people standing up in the front and the back, and I didn't get that one because I wanted to go to the store and pick up an item or two at the drug store. The next Cleveland Avenue bus that I saw I noticed there were—I didn't see anyone standing up at that point, but by the time I walked to the bus, and was getting on, there were some people in the back, standing in the back and there was one vacant seat, which I took along side a man and the two women across the aisle. We went, there were still a few vacant seats in the front, of course, I was just getting on the bus, I was not [unintelligible] any seats, or trying to see who was what seats were vacant and what not, I was only concerned with the one I was sitting in. We went to the next stop without being disturbed. On the third, the front of the bus seats, the front seats were occupied and this one man, a white man standing. At this point the driver asked us to stand up and let him have those seats, and when neither, none of us moved at his first words, he said, "You all make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats."** And the man who was sitting next to the window stood up and I made room for him to pass by me and I sit where I was. The two women across the aisle stood up and moved out. Now, where they went, or whether they left the bus and whether they stayed on I don't know because while he was stopping to have trying to get us to stand up, some people, several people left the bus. I didn't see any white people leave. I don't know what happened to this passenger that he wanted to occupy the seat. I don't know whether he, he never said anything, all I know that it was a man. And when he saw me still sitting, and that had left the three seats vacant, except where I was, he asked me if I was going to stand up and I said, "No I'm not." And he said, "Well, if you, if you don't stand up, I'm going to have you, call the police and have you arrested." I said, "You may do that." And he did get off the bus and stayed for a few minutes and I still stayed where I was and when two policemen came on the bus, the driver pointed me out and he said that he needed the seats and other three stood, that one, he just said that one would not. And when the policeman approached me one of them spoke and asked me if the bus driver had asked me to stand and I said, "Yes." He said, "Why don't you stand up?" I said, "I don't think I should have to stand up." And I asked him, "Why do you push us around?" He said, "I do not know, but the law is the law and you're under arrest."** But to my mind, and I had never read it in the City ordinance where a bus driver's supposed to have one passenger stand up and not have a seat or another one to take the seat. And if I can remember correctly, it said in keeping with racial segregation the bus driver had the, I believe it said the police power which meant they could even carry arms if they wanted to, to rearrange seating in keeping with racial segregation. But they were not rearranging seating, they were just depriving four passengers of a seat for one person to sit down and leave three vacant seats while the back of the bus was packed because there was black standing and there was only one white person who was standing. And he was a man.