On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to relinquish her seat on a Montgomery city bus to a white male, a move that would spark the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott represented the first large-scale U.S. demonstration against segregation, and Mrs. Parks became frequently referred to as the mother of the civil rights movement.
Today, Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum stands on the spot of Mrs. Parks’ historic arrest. Located on the University’s Montgomery Campus, the museum opened on Dec. 1, 2000, with the mission of preserving and interpreting the story and lasting legacy of Mrs. Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott for future generations.
Constructed on the site of the former Empire Theater, the museum has become a major landmark in the revitalization of downtown Montgomery and annually draws visitors from throughout the country and around the world. As the nation’s only museum dedicated to Mrs. Parks, the museum collects, preserves and exhibits artifacts to the life and lessons of Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the civil rights movement and provides educational programming and resources for K-12, adult and lifelong learners.
Visitors to the museum will learn more about the people behind the boycott, as well as the political and social climates of 1950s Montgomery. Through the exhibits, visitors will hear the voices of brave men and women who fought for freedom through the peaceful bus boycott, witness the arrest of Mrs. Parks, and travel back in time to a mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church that set the stage for the boycott. Artifacts within the exhibits include a restored 1955 station wagon, a replica of the public bus on which Mrs. Parks was sitting on the day of her arrest and original historic documents of that era.
Visitors may also choose to take a trip aboard the “Cleveland Avenue Time Machine” in the museum’s Children’s Wing. By boarding a replica of the Cleveland Avenue bus where Mrs. Parks was arrested, visitors are taken on a 20-minute, virtual trip through the historical events of the Jim Crow Era, setting the stage for what they will see in the museum’s main exhibit.
The museum also regularly hosts traveling exhibits in its gallery, which are free to visitors during normal business hours.