Rosa Parks Net Worth at Death – Salary, Income, Husband

Rosa Parks Net Worth

Rosa Parks had an estimated net worth of $3 million at death. Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist who refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her defiance sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Its success launched nationwide efforts to end racial segregation of public facilities.

Parks received the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Martin Luther King Jr. Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal.

To calculate the net worth of Rosa Parks, subtract all her liabilities from her total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity she has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of her net worth:


Rosa Parks

Net Worth: $3 Million
Monthly Salary: $20 Thousand
Annual Income: $500 Thousand
Source of Wealth: Activist, Author

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Early Life and Family

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was born on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Parks’ parents, James and Leona McCauley, divorced when she was two years old. Parks’ mother relocated the family to Pine Level, Alabama, where her parents, Rose and Sylvester Edwards, lived. Parks’ grandparents were both formerly enslaved people who were strong advocates for racial equality; the family lived on the Edwards’ farm, where Parks spent her childhood.

Parks’ childhood was filled with racial discrimination and activism for racial equality.

Parks’ grandfather once stood in front of their house with a shotgun as Ku Klux Klan members marched down the street.


Parks attended segregated schools throughout her education. Parks was taught to read at a young age by her mother and attended a segregated, one-room school in Pine Level, Alabama, that frequently lacked adequate school supplies such as desks. African American students were forced to walk to the first through sixth grade schoolhouse, while white students were provided with bus transportation and a new school building.

Parks began attending the city’s Industrial School for Girls in Montgomery when she was 11 years old.

Parks left school in 1929, while in the 11th grade and attending a secondary education laboratory school led by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes, to attend to both her sick grandmother and mother back in Pine Level.

Parks never returned to her studies. Instead, she got a job in a Montgomery shirt factory. After marrying in 1932, she completed her high school education with the help of her husband in 1933.

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Parks met and married Raymond Parks, a barber and NAACP activist, in 1932, when she was 19 years old.

Parks became actively involved in civil rights issues after graduating from high school with Raymond’s support by joining the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP in 1943, serving as the chapter’s youth leader as well as secretary to NAACP President E.D. Nixon — a post she held until 1957. The couple had no children.


Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955, for refusing to comply with a bus driver’s request that she give up her seat to a white passenger. She later explained that her refusal was not due to physical exhaustion, but because she was tired of giving in.

Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus for home after a long day of work as a seamstress at a Montgomery department store. She sat in the first of several rows labeled “colored” passengers.

According to the Montgomery City Code, all public transportation must be segregated, and bus drivers must have “the powers of a police officer of the city while in actual charge of any bus for the purposes of carrying out the provisions” of the code.

By assigning seats, bus drivers were required to provide separate but equal accommodations for white and black passengers.

This was accomplished by drawing a line in the middle of the bus to separate white passengers in the front from African American passengers in the back. When an African American passenger boarded the bus, they had to enter through the front door to pay their fare, then exit through the back door.

As Parks’ bus continued on its route, it began to fill up with white passengers. When the bus was full, the driver noticed several white passengers standing in the aisle. The bus driver came to a halt and moved the sign separating the two sections back one row, requesting that four black passengers vacate their seats.

The city’s bus ordinance did not expressly grant drivers the authority to require any passenger, regardless of color, to give up a seat. Montgomery bus drivers, on the other hand, had adopted the practice of repositioning the sign separating Black and white passengers and, if necessary, asking Black passengers to give up their seats to white passengers. If the Black passenger objected, the bus driver could refuse service and call the police to have them removed.

Three of the bus’s other Black passengers complied with the driver, but Parks refused and remained seated. “Why don’t you stand up?” the driver demanded, to which Parks replied, “I don’t think I should have to stand up.” The driver called the cops, who arrested her.

Parks was arrested at the scene and charged with violating Chapter 6, Section 11 of the Montgomery City Code. She was taken to police headquarters and released on bail later that night.

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Montgomery Bus Boycott

African Americans were asked to boycott city buses on Monday, December 5, 1955, the day of Parks’ trial, in protest of her arrest. People were encouraged to stay at home instead of driving or walking to work or school. With the majority of the African American community refusing to board the bus, organizers believed a longer boycott could be successful. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, as it became known, was a huge success, lasting 381 days and culminating in a Supreme Court ruling that declared segregation on public transportation systems unconstitutional.

On December 1, the evening Parks was arrested, Nixon began planning a boycott of Montgomery’s city buses. Advertisements were placed in local papers, and handbills were printed and distributed in Black communities.

On the morning of December 5, a group of African American leaders gathered at Mt. Zion Church in Montgomery to discuss strategies and determined that their boycott effort would require a new organization and strong leadership. They established the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), and King, a newcomer to Montgomery, was elected minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The MIA saw Parks’ case as an excellent opportunity to take additional action to effect real change.

When Parks arrived at the courthouse with her attorney, Fred Gray, that morning, she was greeted by a bustling crowd of around 500 local supporters cheering her on. Parks was found guilty of violating a local ordinance and fined $10, plus a $4 court fee, after a 30-minute hearing.

The most significant event of the day, however, was what Parks’ trial had precipitated.

The city’s buses were mostly empty. Some people carpooled, and others took African American-operated cabs, but the majority of the city’s estimated 40,000 African American commuters had chosen to walk to work that day — some as far as 20 miles.

Because of the size and scope of the boycott, as well as the loyalty to boycott participation, the effort lasted several months. Montgomery had become a victorious eyesore, with dozens of public buses sitting idle, eventually crippling the city’s transit company’s finances. However, as the boycott gained traction, there was fierce opposition.

Some segregationists retaliated physically. Black churches were set on fire, and bombs destroyed King and E.D. Nixon’s homes. Attempts to end the boycott were made again. The insurance for the city taxi system used by African Americans was canceled. Black citizens were arrested for violating an antiquated boycott law.

Members of the African American community took legal action in response to the subsequent events. A Black legal team took the issue of segregation on public transportation systems to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Northern (Montgomery) Division, armed with the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which stated that separate but equal policies had no place in public education. The suit was filed by Parks’ attorney, Fred Gray.

The district court ruled in June 1956 that racial segregation laws (also known as “Jim Crow laws”) were unconstitutional. Shortly after, the city of Montgomery appealed the court’s decision, but on November 13, 1956, the United States Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling, declaring segregation on public transportation unconstitutional.

The city of Montgomery had no choice but to lift its enforcement of segregation on public buses after the transit company and downtown businesses suffered financial losses and the legal system ruled against them, and the boycott officially ended on December 20, 1956.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott became one of the largest and most successful mass movements against racial segregation in history, thanks to a combination of legal action and the unwavering determination of the African American community.

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Life After the Bus Boycott

Despite becoming a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks faced hardship in the months following her arrest in Montgomery and the subsequent boycott. Her department store job was lost, and her husband was fired after his boss forbade him from discussing his wife or their legal case.

They eventually left Montgomery and moved to Detroit, Michigan, along with Parks’ mother, because they couldn’t find work. Parks established a new life for herself as a secretary and receptionist in the congressional office of U.S. Representative John Conyer. She was also a member of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s board of directors.

Parks founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development in 1987 with longtime friend Elaine Eason Steele. The organization organizes “Pathways to Freedom” bus tours that take young people across the country to important civil rights and Underground Railroad sites.

Autobiography and Memoir

In 1992, Parks published Rosa Parks: My Story, an autobiography describing her life in the segregated South. In 1995, she published Quiet Strength, which contains her memoir and focuses on the role that religious faith played in her life.

Outkast Song

In 1998, the hip-hop group Outkast released the song “Rosa Parks,” which entered the top 100 on the Billboard music charts the following year. The song included the chorus:

“Ah-ha, hush that fuss. Everybody move to the back of the bus”.

In 1999, Parks sued the group and its label for defamation and false advertising because Outkast had used Parks’ name without her permission. Outkast stated that the song was protected by the First Amendment and did not violate Parks’ publishing rights.

In 2003, a judge dismissed the defamation lawsuit. Parks’ attorney soon filed another false advertising lawsuit for using her name without permission, asking for over $5 billion.

On April 14, 2005, the case was settled. Outkast and co-defendants SONY BMG Music Entertainment, Arista Records LLC and LaFace Records did not admit wrongdoing, but agreed to work with the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute to develop educational programs that “educate today’s youth about the significant role Rosa Parks played in making America a better place for all races,” according to a statement released at the time.

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Parks died quietly in her apartment in Detroit, Michigan, on October 24, 2005, at the age of 92. She had been diagnosed with progressive dementia the previous year, but she had been suffering from it since at least 2002.

Parks’ death was marked by a number of memorial services, including a viewing of her casket at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., where an estimated 50,000 people gathered.

She was buried alongside her husband and mother in the chapel’s mausoleum at Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery. The chapel was renamed the Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel shortly after her death.

Accomplishments and Awards

Parks received numerous awards during her lifetime, including the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP’s highest honor, and the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Award.

On September 15, 1996, President Bill Clinton awarded Parks the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed by the executive branch of the United States. The following year, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. legislative branch.

TIME magazine included Parks in its 1999 list of the “20 Most Influential People of the 20th Century.”

Remembering Rosa Parks 

Museum and Park

Troy University established the Rosa Parks Museum in 2000, near the site of her arrest in downtown Montgomery, Alabama. Rosa Parks Circle, a 3.5-acre park designed by Maya Lin, an artist and architect best known for designing the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2001 by the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Movie on Rosa Parks’ Life

The Rosa Parks Story, a biographical film starring Angela Bassett and directed by Julie Dash, was released in 2002. The film won the NAACP Image Award, the Christopher Award, and the Black Reel Award in 2003.

Commemorative Stamp

Parks’ 100th birthday would have been on February 4, 2013. In honor of the occasion, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp called the Rosa Parks Forever stamp, which featured an image of the famous activist.


In February 2013, President Barack Obama unveiled a statue honoring Parks in the nation’s Capitol building designed by Robert Firmin and sculpted by Eugene Daub. According to The New York Times, he remembered Parks by saying, “In a single moment, with the simplest of gestures, she helped change America and change the world… And today, she takes her rightful place among those who shaped the course of this nation.”

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Rosa Parks Quotes

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.


I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.


I’m tired of being treated like a second-class citizen.


Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.


Each person must live their life as a model for others.


God has always given me the strength to say what is right.


There is just so much hurt, disappointment, and oppression one can take… The line between reason and madness grows thinner.


People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically… No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.

View our larger collection of the best Rosa Parks quotes.

Further Reading

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