40 Inspirational Rosa Parks Quotes on Racism and Human Rights

Rosa Louise McCauley, known as Rosa Parks, was born 4th February, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. She was a prominent American activist who refused to give away her seat for a white man on a public bus resulting in the 1955-1956 Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama. She helped to motivate and inspire the black community to boycott the Montgomery bus for more than a year. And this was the act that helped initiate the civil rights movement in the United States.

For most of her childhood, Rosa Parks was educated at home by her mom who was a teacher at a nearby school. Her family received a lot of racial discrimination and her grandfather would always keep watch at night with a rifle in his hands waiting for a violent white mob. When Rosa joined school in Pine Level, she attended a segregated establishment. Though the white kids were bused to school, the black children had to walk.

In 1932, Park married Raymond Parks, a civil rights activist, and a barber, who encouraged her to go back to school and earn a diploma. In 1943, she became a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People where she served as the secretary.

In the incident that made Rosa a household name, she was riding in a crowded Mongomery city bus and she and other black bus passengers were asked to surrender their seats for the standing whites, which she declined. She was arrested for the offense and charged in court but never paid her ticket. This resulted in the African Americans boycotting the bus until the courts reviewed segregation in buses and ruled it was unconstitutional. For her role in igniting this success, she was called the mother of “civil rights movements” Below are her famous quotes and sayings about civil rights and racism.

Most Fascinating Rosa Parks Quotes

1. “Our freedom is threatened every time one of our young people is killed by another child… every time a person gets stopped and beaten by the police because of the color of their skin.”– Rosa Parks

2. “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”– Rosa Parks

3. “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”– Rosa Parks

4. “I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.”– Rosa Parks

5. “Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.”– Rosa Parks

6. “At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.”– Rosa Parks

7. “I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free -so other people would be also free.”– Rosa Parks

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8. “I learned to put my trust in God and to see Him as my strength. Long ago I set my mind to be a free person and not to give in to fear…I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”– Rosa Parks

9. “At the time I didn’t realize why there was so much Klan activity, but later I learned that it was because African-American soldiers were returning from World War I acting as if they deserved equal rights because they had served their country.”– Rosa Parks

10. “During the Montgomery bus boycott, we came together and remained unified for 381 days. It has never been done again. The Montgomery boycott became the model for human rights throughout the world.”– Rosa Parks

11. “Nothing in the Golden Rule says that others will treat us as we have treated them. It only says that we must treat others in a way that we would want to be treated.”– Rosa Parks

12. “I knew someone had to take the first step. So I made up my mind not to move.”– Rosa Parks

13. “If you want to be respected for your actions, then your behavior must be above reproach. If our lives demonstrate that we are peaceful, humble, and trusted, this is recognized by others.”– Rosa Parks

14. “Have you ever been hurt and the place tries to heal a bit, and you just pull the scar off of it over and over again.”– Rosa Parks

15. “I will no longer act on the outside in a way that contradicts the truth that I hold deeply inside. I will no longer act as if I were less than the whole person I know myself inwardly to be.”– Rosa Parks

16. “Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.”– Rosa Parks

17. “I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people.”– Rosa Parks

18. “Whatever my individual desires were to be free, I was not alone. There were many others who felt the same way.”– Rosa Parks

19. “Let us look at Jim Crow for the criminal he is and what he has done to one life multiplied millions of times over these United States and the world. He walks us on a tightrope from birth.”– Rosa Parks

20. “I don’t think well of people who are prejudiced against people because of race. The only way for prejudiced people to change is for them to decide for themselves that all human beings should be treated fairly. We can’t force them to think that way.”– Rosa Parks

21. “Whites would accuse you of causing trouble when all you were doing was acting like a normal human being instead of cringing.”– Rosa Parks

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22. “You spend your whole lifetime in your occupation, actually making life clever, easy and convenient for white people. But when you have to get transportation home, you are denied an equal accommodation. Our existence was for the white man’s comfort and well-being; we had to accept being deprived of just being human.”– Rosa Parks

23. “I’d see the bus pass every day. But to me, that was a way of life. We had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a Black world and a white world.”– Rosa Parks

24. “That was a difference between black slaves and white indentured servants. Black slaves were usually not allowed to keep their names, but were given new names by their owners.”– Rosa Parks

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25. “I had decided that I would not go anywhere with a piece of paper in my hand asking white folks for any favors. I had made that decision myself, as an individual.”– Rosa Parks

26. “Without vision, people perish, and without courage and inspiration dreams die.”– Rosa Parks

27. “As far back as I can remember, I knew there was something wrong with our way of life when people could be mistreated because of the color of their skin.”– Rosa Parks

28. “I was a person with dignity and self-respect, and I should not set my sights lower than anybody else just because I was black.”– Rosa Parks

29. “There is just so much hurt, disappointment, and oppression one can take. The line between reason and madness grows thinner.”– Rosa Parks

30. “I had given up my seat before, but this day, I was especially tired. Tired from my work as a seamstress, and tired from the ache in my heart.”– Rosa Parks

31. “Even when there was segregation there was plenty of integration in the South, but it was for the benefit and convenience of the white person, not us.”– Rosa Parks

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32. “I thought about Emmett Till, and I could not go back. My legs and feet were not hurting, that is a stereotype. I paid the same fare as others, and I felt violated. I was not going back.”– Rosa Parks

33. “As long as there is unemployment, war, crime and all things that go to the infliction of man’s inhumanity to man, regardless – there is much to be done, and people need to work together.”– Rosa Parks

34. “Black women are very capable of leading our organizations. I believe that firmly.”– Rosa Parks

35. “In it not easy to remain rational and normal mentally in such a setting where, even in our airport in Montgomery, there is a white waiting room… There are restroom facilities for white ladies and colored women, white men and colored men. We stand outside after being served at the same ticket counter instead of sitting on the inside.”– Rosa Parks

36. “I have never been what you would call just an integrationist. I know I’ve been called that… Integrating that bus wouldn’t mean more equality. Even when there was segregation, there was plenty of integration in the South, but it was for the benefit and convenience of the white person, not us.”– Rosa Parks

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37. “The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute accepts people of any race. We don’t discriminate against anyone. We teach people to reach their highest potential. I set examples by the way I lead my life.”– Rosa Parks

38. “To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try.”– Rosa Parks

39. “What really matters is not whether we have problems, but we go through them. We must keep going on to make it through whatever we are facing.”– Rosa Parks

40. “As a child I learned from the Bible to trust in God and not be afraid. And I felt the Lord would give me the strength to endure whatever I had to face. God did away with all my fear.”– Rosa Parks

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Video: Mini Biography of Rosa Parks Civil Rights Activist

If you want a very short and very quick biography of Rosa, this is an excellent use of the next few minutes. Civil rights activist Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a segregated Montgomery, Alabama bus. Her actions spurred on the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott that helped launch nationwide efforts to end segregation of public facilities. The city of Montgomery had no choice but to lift the law requiring segregation on public buses. Rosa Parks received many accolades during her lifetime, including the NAACP’s highest award.

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Rosa Parks was a famous activist who delivered the blacks in America from discrimination. Her entire life revolved against racist from an early age. Her braveness and unshaken spirit helped a lot in declaring segregation in buses unconstitutional. Her works never went unnoticed and she received numerous awards such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom as well as the Congregation Gold Medal. The above quotes by Rosa Parks will help you see things differently and help society to curb racism.

Image Credit: “Rosa Parks Car Card” by Metro Transportation Library and Archive is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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