Left: Rosa Parks 7053 Tee, a collaboration between Alabama Chanin and basic. benefitting the Equal Justice Initiative; Right: “Montgomery, Alabama, police photo (mug shot) of Rosa Parks”, February 21, 1956 from Alabama Department of Archives and History.
In the iconic booking photograph of Rosa Parks shown above, taken February 21, 1956, she is recorded as prisoner “7053” after being arrested for protesting during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The “7053” image was discovered in 2004 when a Montgomery County chief deputy found it in storage.
This incident occurred two months after her famous arrest on December 1, 1955, for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on her bus ride home from work at the Montgomery Fair department store.
After Parks’ December arrest, Jo Ann Robinson, (who we will share more about later this month) and the Women’s Political Council began disseminating flyers with instructions for a one-day boycott of the Montgomery Bus System by the Black community. On December 5, 1955, the boycott launched and became a 13-month long campaign. Two months in, Rosa Parks was arrested once again for her participation—and the above photo of prisoner number 7053 was snapped.
Finally, on December 20, 1956, after sustaining the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Supreme Court ruled that Alabama laws requiring segregated buses were unconstitutional which led to the integration of public transportation. It was a major victory and the result of decades of work in the Black freedom struggle.
Rosa Parks had worked for the NAACP as a field secretary for years, tireless in her efforts against white supremacy throughout the South. Trained in nonviolence and collective action at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, she was a political organizer as well as an activist, serving as a member of the Montgomery Voters League. After the Montgomery Bus Boycott, she would be hailed as the “mother of the movement,” recognized as a national human rights champion. She left a legacy as a freedom fighter whose courage ignited one of the most significant human rights movements in history.
Our recent #ThoseWhoInspireUs series has shared the stories of Recy Taylor, Rosa Parks, and Claudette Colvin—three courageous, strong, and resilient women whose stories are interconnected and whose lives reveal a lot about the struggle for racial justice. Though the arrest of Rosa Parks was the catalyst that launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the planning and organization of the boycott was successful largely due to the tireless work of many other Black women. It would be impossible to overstate the importance and contributions of Claudette Colvin, Jo Ann Robinson, Mary Louise Smith, Aurelia Browder, Viola White, Geneva Johnson, Lillie Mae Bradford, Katie Wingfield, Susie McDonald, Epsie Worthy, Mary Fair Burks, Thelma Glass, and many others.
We partnered with Birmingham-based shop, basic.—who, like Alabama Chanin, is committed to slow fashion and social responsibility—to create a limited-edition t-shirt inspired by the activism of Rosa Parks. 100% of the profits from this piece were be donated to the Equal Justice Initiative to support their work of challenging prevailing narratives about race in America through extensive research, documentation, and educational efforts.
This capsule of limited-edition Rosa Parks Tees sold out almost immediately. Tees were made from organic cotton by our Bldg. 14 team in our manufacturing facility at The Factory. Explore Core Essentials for our full assortment of sustainable machine-sewn designs produced in Bldg. 14.
Support the Equal Justice Initiative here to help them, as John Lewis famously put it, “Make good trouble.”
Learn more about nonviolence and collective action here.
Below are mugshots of Rosa Parks and other heroic women from the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1956. Staff at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office discovered arrest logs and photographs in 2004. Selected pages from those volumes were scanned by Alabama Department of Archives and History staff.
And find Lava Thomas’ Mugshot Portraits: Women of the Montgomery Bus Boycott 2018 exhibition online here.
“Scan of mug shots from Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1956” from Alabama Department of Archives and History. From top left: Addie J. Hamerter, Alberta J. James, Audrey Belle Langford, Jo Ann Robinson, Mrs. A. W. West, Senior, Rosa Parks, Cora McHaney, Mentha L. Johnson, and Ida Mae Caldwell.