Rosa Parks stood up for African Americans—by sitting down.
Although Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation granted slaves their freedom, for many years Black people were discriminated against in much of the United States. In southern states, for instance, most Black children were forced to attend separate schools from white kids in classrooms that were often rundown, with outdated books. African Americans also couldn’t eat at the same restaurants as white people and had to sit in the back seats of public buses. Segregation—the separation of races—was enforced by local laws.