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Exhibition Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words

Detroit 1957 and Beyond

“Our freedom is threatened every time one of our young people is killed by another child, . . . every time a person gets stopped and beaten by the police because of the color of their skin.”

In August 1957 Raymond and Rosa Parks and Rosa’s mother, Leona McCauley, moved to Detroit, Michigan, where her younger brother, Sylvester, lived. By October, Rosa accepted a job offer as a hostess at the Holly Tree Inn on the campus of Hampton Institute in Virginia and finally returned to Detroit in December 1958. She remained active in the civil rights movement. Rosa participated in the Prayer Pilgrimage (1957), the March on Washington (1963), Mississippi Freedom Summer (1964), the Selma to Montgomery March (1965), and the Poor People’s Campaign (1968). She also fought for women’s rights and against the Vietnam War. Rosa continued to advocate for prisoners and supported the growing Black Power movement. She was employed by Congressman John Conyers from 1965 to 1988. Rosa supported Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns. In the mid-1980s, she participated in the anti-apartheid protests. Rosa was part of the welcoming party for Nelson Mandela when he visited the U.S. In 1987 she co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development with Elaine Steele to educate and direct youth.