Originally delivered as a Wednesday night lecture at Seventh and James Baptist Church in January of 2006:

Around six PM on Thursday evening, Dec. 1, 1955, headed home after finishing her work day as a seamstress at a downtown Montgomery department store, Rosa Parks stood in front of Court Square waiting for the Cleveland Avenue Bus.

She hurriedly boarded the bus and found an empty seat. A few moments later, she would refuse to surrender her seat to a white passenger. The police would come, they would arrest her, and a pivotal moment in modern American history would commence.

“Let me have those seats,” the bus driver had called back over his shoulder, seeing that a white passenger was standing.

Rosa was sitting next to an African American man and across the aisle sat two African American women. Although the driver was speaking to all four of them, not one of them moved.

The driver called back a second time: “Y’all make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats.”

The man next to Rosa began to stir, and then stood and moved into the aisle.

Rosa looked across to see that the other women were also complying.

Rosa eased over to the just-vacated window-seat and, for lack of a better word, she “dug in.”

“I could not see how standing up was going to make it light for me,” she would later say.

”The more we gave in and complied, the worse they treated us.”

The driver saw that she was not moving and asked one more time if she was going to stand up.

“No,” she said.

“Well, if you don’t stand up, I’m going to have you arrested,” he said.

“You may do that,” Rosa Parks said.

By the time the police arrived a few minutes later, the back of the bus was quietly emptying out. When one of the policeman asked Mrs. Parks why she didn’t stand up, she asked him: “Why do you push us around?”

And he replied: “I do not know, but the law is the law, and you are under arrest.”

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