Rosa Parks, civil rights pioneer, robbed, injured in Detroit home

August 31, 1994|By New York Times News Service

DETROIT -- Rosa L. Parks, whose defiance of segregation in 1955 led to the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., and helped touch off the black civil rights movement, was recovering today after being robbed and assaulted in her house.

Mrs. Parks, 81, was treated last night at Detroit Receiving Hospital for facial injuries and had swelling on the right side of her face. Initially listed in good condition, she was discharged without being admitted to the hospital.

A man broke in the rear door of Mrs. Parks' home in central Detroit between 8 and 8:20 Tuesday evening, Chief Isaiah McKinnon of the police department was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.

When she went downstairs to investigate, a man was inside her house, reeking of alcohol, and he struck her, the chief said. The assailant fled on foot with about $50, he said.

It was unclear if Mrs. Parks was able to summon help herself. Officers took her to the hospital.

Mrs. Parks had a pacemaker inserted in 1988 because of an irregular heartbeat.

In 1985, when she returned to Montgomery for the 30th anniversary of her refusal to yield her seat on a bus, she said: "At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this. I certainly wouldn't change anything in my fight for freedom."

Mrs. Parks was on her way home from work as a seamstress when a bus driver ordered her to give up her seat to a white man and move to the area designated "Negro" in the back of the bus. Three other blacks moved but Mrs. Parks refused. She later said she was too tired to get up.

She was arrested and fined $14 but never paid the fine. Her act became the symbol for a bus boycott led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy.

The Supreme Court declared the Montgomery segregation laws unconstitutional on Nov. 14, 1956.

Mrs. Parks moved to Detroit in 1957, after efforts to find a job in Alabama failed.

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