In 1955, one night in Alabama, a black seamstress was trying to get home after a long day of work. When white people boarded the bus she was instructed to vacate her seat and move to the back of the bus. When she refused, the police were called and she was arrested. Later, she would always deny that she refused to give up her seat because she was physically tired. “The only tired I was,” she said, “was tired of giving in.” Rosa Parks’ arrest was not the first such one, but it was used as a rallying cry for civil rights activists.
One of the biggest differences in the way protesters of the pre-modern civil rights movements behaved was dictated by gender. While male protesters were often brutalized and even lynched, female protesters were often subjected to sexual violence as a way to discourage acts of social and political protest, legally defined and punishable by Jim Crow law as civil disobedience.
Rosa Parks Equality Song