A Wheel and Away

Rosa Parks Museum, AL

Montgomery, Alabama

Thursday 1 December 1955 – Rosa Parks, a seamstress at the nearby Montgomery Fair Department Store, finished her day at work and boarded the bus home.  She sat down near the front.  As a black woman in 1950’s Alabama, this contravened segregation laws and her refusal to give up her seat when white people boarded the bus, led to her forced removal from the bus and subsequent arrest and conviction.

This set in motion a whole chain of events which was to lead to an almost year long boycott of the buses by a large percentage of Montomery’s population and pushed the Jim Crow laws into the spotlight both in in the US and internationally.

Almost a year later, on 13 November 1956, the US Supreme Court passed a ruling that segregation on the buses was unconstitutional.   This was a key victory for the Civil Rights Movement.

The museum is dedicated to this remarkable woman known as ‘The mother of the Civil Rights Movement’.  It is located at the bus stop where she was arrested, a mere 500m or so from the stop where she initially got on the bus.

It offers a fascinating insight into the social climate of the time, along with detailed information about how a group of determined individuals, including a young Dr Martin Luther King, initiated a campaign that was to have far reaching implications throughout the world.

The museum is highly interactive and very visual.  Witness Mrs Parks’ arrest, see what a 1955 Montgomery bus was like and even attend a mass meeting of the Montgomery Improvement Association.  Visitors can listen to the voices of those brave people who fought for their freedom from oppression and have the opportunity to totally immerse themselves in the mood of the time.

It is also home to many artefacts of important historical significance, including court documents and Mrs Parks original fingerprint arrest record.

The museum also incorporates the Children’s Wing, located just a few metres away on the same street.  This offers an interactive experience where visitors can sit in a simulated bus and revisit Mrs Parks experience.

General accessibility information

The entrance is flat and the entire museum is easily accessible by wheelchair users.  There is hard flooring throughout and plenty of room for manoeuvre.

There are wheelchairs available to borrow – the museum has three, so reservations are not always necessary but are advised.

There is on street parking immediately outside the museum.  There are designated disabled spaces available and in addition, visitors to the museum can park for free in any of the Troy university parking facilities.