On December 1, 1955, an African American seamstress named Rosa Parks took a seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Local segregation laws required her to yield that seat should a white passenger want it, and when she refused to honor such a demand, she found herself arrested. It was a minor incident that might well have ended when she paid her ten-dollar fine. Instead, her act of defiance sparked a yearlong protest that forced the city to give up its racist practices in public transportation. More significant, however, Parks's action had ushered in a decade of agitation that would bring an end to much of the legalized racial discrimination in America.
Photographer Ida Berman took this picture in the summer of 1955, while Parks was attending a workshop in community activism at Highlander Folk School in Tennessee.