Rosa Parks may not have known the late autumn day in 1955 when she started a movement, struck a blow against racism and inspired millions would stand out in history the way it has for 61 years. But she should not be characterized as just a meek working woman on a bus. She had been a crusader for Black women’s justice through the South and was secretary of the NAACP’s Montgomery, Alabama chapter when she was arrested. Her voice lent meaning to the generations that came after her.

So on the anniversary of her refusal to give up her seat to injustice, here are some memorable quotes from her over the years:

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old…I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” — From “Rosa Parks: My Story” 

Rosaparks-Young“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.” — From “Quiet Strength : the Faith, the Hope, and the Heart of a Woman Who Changed a Nation”

“[The bus driver] said, ‘y’all make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats’ and when the policeman approached me, one of them spoke and asked me if the driver had asked me to stand. I said yes. He said ‘why don’t you stand up?’ I said, I don’t think I should have to stand up.” — Interview with NPR, 1992

“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 and have all opportunities that others should have.” — Rosa Parks Biography, Academy of Achievement


“(I) was a person of dignity and self-respect, and I should not set my sights lower than anybody else just because I was black.” — From “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks”