20 Powerful Rosa Parks Quotes to Keep Alive

, Staff Writer
Updated August 31, 2021
Rosa Parks Quote
    Rosa Parks Quote
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    Used under Getty Images license

As a well-known figure of the Civil Rights Era, Rosa Parks had a lot to do with the fight for equality for Black Americans. If you're looking for inspiration to keep you motivated in today's struggles, reflect on some key Rosa Parks quotes. Her action of refusing to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama may be what she's most known for, but she had a lot of powerful things to say.

Who Is Rosa Parks?

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913-October 24, 2005) was an African American civil rights activist who is often referred to as the mother of the modern-day civil rights movement in the United States. Some even refer to her as the First Lady of civil rights. She is most famous for her December 1, 1955 refusal to obey bus driver James Blake's demand that she relinquish her seat to a white man. She was arrested for her civil disobedience, but the stand she took ultimately led to the desegregation of Alabama's public buses.

Rosa Parks has been the subject of many books, magazine articles and even movies. She also wrote her own book, Rosa Parks: My Story (1992), and gave many speeches during her lifetime. Discover a few of the powerful Parks quotes that provide insight into her role during the Civil Rights Era of the 1950s and beyond.


Parks' Civil Rights Era Quotes

Perhaps Parks' most powerful quote was just a few words: "No, I will not." That's how she recalled responding when asked to give up her seat on the bus. Parks often spoke publicly about that fateful day, as well as her overall experience as a Black person in the Deep South during the Jim Crow era.

  • "We didn't have any civil rights. It was just a matter of survival, of existing from one day to the next."
  • "I did not get on the bus to get arrested I got on the bus to go home."
  • “The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
  • "Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it."
  • "The time had just come when I had been pushed as far as I could stand to be pushed, I suppose."
  • "I had decided that I would have to know once and for all what rights I had as a human being and a citizen, even in Montgomery, Alabama."
  • "Since I have always been a strong believer in God, I knew that He was with me, and only He could get me through that next step."
  • “God has always given me the strength to say what is right ... I had the strength of God and my ancestors with me.”
  • "We are not in a struggle of black against white, but wrong and right, right against wrong."
  • "The only thing that bothered me was that we waited so long to make this protest and to let it be known, wherever we go, that all of us should be free and equal."

Reflective Quotes by Rosa Parks

Parks remained involved in and passionate about civil rights throughout her lifetime. She often spoke about her past experiences, from her early days as the grandchild of enslaved people to her role with the Freedom Fighters. She remained committed to sharing what she, along with other civil rights activists of her day, experienced as she sought to inspire a new generation to carry on.

  • "I think as soon as we could get rid of the slave mentality we were on our way to trying to struggle for freedom."
  • “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.”
  • "I remember going to sleep as a girl hearing the Klan ride at night and hearing a lynching and being afraid the house would burn down."
  • "It pains me that there is still a lot of Klan activity and racism."
  • "You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right."
  • "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."
  • "I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people."
  • "Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others."
  • "Each person must live their life as a role model for others."
  • "We still, today, have a long way to go and we have to continue our work."

The Drive for Equality

Rosa Parks' actions on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, along with what she did throughout the remaining 50 years of her life, emphasized her determination to bring about equality for Black Americans. She is an example of how one individual can play a pivotal role in bringing about social justice. Review Rosa Parks' biography to learn more about her life and impact. Of course, Parks is not the only person who played an important role in desegregation. Learn more about the time by reviewing a timeline of significant events of the Civil Rights Era.