Henry Ford Museum: Rosa Parks Bus

Rosa Park is a famous civil rights activist known for her role in beginning the Montgomery Bus Boycott. While originally born on a small farm in rural Alabama, Parks eventually moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where she worked as a seamstress. During her time in Montgomery, Parks also joined the NAACP. She was very involved in the organization. On December 5, 1955, Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. This event sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This event caused a substantial decline in revenues for the bus company. This financial pressure ( coupled with a Supreme Court case) forced the integration of Montgomery’s buses and helped spark the Civil Rights Movement. While Rosa Parks’ arrest was a significant event in American history, there were no official records of the bus on which the event occurred. In the early 1970s, Roy H. Summerford purchased bus #2857, which according to company employees, was Parks’ bus. Following Summerford’s death, his daughter and son-in-law, Vivian and Donnie Williams decided to auction off the bus. The Internet auction house authenticated it by finding a scrapbook of the Montgomery bus manager, including a newspaper clipping of Parks’ arrest with the bus number written nearby. In 2001, the Henry Ford Museum purchased the bus at auction for $492,000. The museum restored the bus and put it on display. Visitors can currently view the Rosa Park Bus at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.