Fifty-five years ago today a black woman in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks, refused to give up her bus seat so that a white man could have it. Police arrested Parks; she was convicted of disorderly conduct. That set off a boycott of the city bus service which lasted more than a year. It was led by a young minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. and it changed America.
If you're looking to mark the start of the civil rights movement in America, that was probably the day.
Parks died in Detroit five years ago, aged 92. John Conyers, a Detroit Congressman, remembers her as "the mother" of the movement, a "real apostle" of non-violence. Her action and the boycott it started led to a court order desegregating Montgomery's buses, but it took the 1964 Civil Rights Act to desegregate all public accommodation in America.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal" our Declaration of Independence begins. But the men (only) who wrote it didn't believe that. Many of them owned slaves. We haven't reached the promised land of racial equality yet. Just look around and you'll know that.
But we've come a fair way, and Rosa Parks is one of those who got us started.