Several black Montgomerians had preceded Ms. Parks in refusing to give up their bus seats to whites in 1955, but Ms. Parks was chosen as a symbol by the Montgomery movement--much like the Brooklyn Dodgers chose Jackie Robinson--as someone whose impeccable character could withstand harsh controversy, which would ensue with the Montgomery bus boycott. Taylor Branch said of Ms. Parks:
She wore rimless spectacles, spoke quietly, wrote and typed faultless letters on her own, and had never been known to lower herself to factionalism. A tireless worker and churchgoer, of working-class station and middle-class demeanor, Rosa Parks was one of those rare people of whom everyone agreed that she gave more than she got. Her character represented one of the isolated high blips on the graph of human nature, offsetting a dozen or so sociopaths. [Parting the Waters, pp. 125].Rosa Parks has always been a personal inspiration for my own political identity and a historical inspiration for neighborhood organizers everywhere. Thank you, Ms. Rosa Parks.