Rosa Parks leaves lasting impact

Although Rosa Parks went to jail for defending her own dignity, her actions influenced the TCU community 10 years later. In 1964, the TCU Board of Trustees allowed the university to accept students of races other than white.Rosa Parks died Monday of natural causes at the age of 92.

James Riddlesperger, chairman of the political science department, said Rosa Parks is a testimony to an average person making a difference in the world.

“She never set out to be a civil rights leader,” Riddlesperger said. “She just was a common working wife and mother.”

History professor Ken Stevens said Parks’ dignity is what people will remember.

“Even though some see it as accidental, her tremendous courage changed the minds of many,” Stevens said. “Several people began to rethink their attitudes.”

In 1955, on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man.

Then, public transportation had laws requiring blacks to give up their seats to whites. When Parks refused to yield her seat, she was arrested.

“She was a catalyst of the civil rights movement,” Riddlesperger said. “She was not involved in political action, but she was forced into it because she decided not to sit in the back of the bus.”

MaryEllen Strong, a sophomore premajor, is grateful for Parks’ courage.

“It’s amazing that a common everyday woman can change the world,” Strong said. “It now allows us to be in a public place with colored people without even thinking twice about it.