Police Report on Arrest of Rosa Parks
Sixty years ago on December 1, 1955, during a typical evening rush hour in Montgomery, Alabama, a 42 year-old woman took a seat near the front of the bus on her way home from the Montgomery Fair department store where she worked as a seamstress. Refusing to yield her seat to a white passenger when instructed by the bus driver, police were called and she was arrested.
The police report shows that Rosa Parks was charged with “refusing to obey orders of bus driver.” According to the report, she was taken to the police station, where she was booked, fingerprinted, and briefly incarcerated.
The event touched off a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery, Alabama, bus system in which a 26-year-old unknown minister, Martin Luther King, Jr., emerged as the leader.
Police Report, Fingerprint Card, and Bus Diagram
From: File Unit: Aurelia S. Browder et al. v. W. A. Gayle et al., No. 1147, 9/1938 – 11/26/1968. Series: Civil Cases, 9/1938 – 11/26/1968. Record Group 21: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685 – 2009
Scope & Content note:
This case file contains documents resulting from a Federal court suit that challenged segregation within Montgomery, Alabama’s public transportation system. The case is renowned for its relation to the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, a pivotal event in the Civil Rights Movement. Although not a party to the case, Rosa Parks’ arrest record and fingerprints are exhibits to the case. The plaintiffs in this case were Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Claudette Colvin, and Mary Louise Smith, all of whom had been either arrested for refusing to give up their seats to white passengers or harmed by being forced to comply with segregation codes. In this case, the three – judge panel ruled Montgomery segregation codes unconstitutional due to their violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court later affirmed the District Court’s judgment.
Documenting history with documents.