20 Inspiring Rosa Parks Quotes on Civil Rights, Freedom, and Equality

rosa parks memorial

Getty Images

Deanna deBara
Deanna deBara
July 23, 2024 at 6:22PM UTC

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, following a long day of work as a seamstress, was told to vacate her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus to accommodate a white passenger. She refused—and, as a result, changed the course of history. In response to Parks’ arrest, activist Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Black community in the Montgomery City bus boycott, which lasted well over a year—and ultimately led to the city repealing its laws around segregation on public buses.

Read more: 40 Michelle Obama Quotes About Finding Your Voice and Achieving Your Goals

Often referred to as the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” Parks would go on to become a central figure in the fight for equality in the United States and globally. While she passed away in 2005, her legacy lives on in the change she inspired and the work she contributed to society.

Let’s take a look at some of the most famous and profound words of wisdom Parks shared over the course of her lifetime:

  1. “I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people.” 77th birthday speech, 1990

  1. “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…the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” —“Rosa Parks, My Story

  1. “Life is to be lived to its fullest so that death is just another chapter. Memories of our lives, our works and our deeds will continue in others.” LIFE, 1988

  1. “I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.” LIFE, 1988

  1. “Human beings are set apart from the animals. We have a spiritual self, a physical self and a conscience. Therefore, we can make choices and are responsible for the choices we make.” LIFE, 1988

  1. “I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free…so other people would be also free.” —PBS Documentary “Eyes on the Prize,” 1987

  1. "Whatever my individual desires were to be free, I was not alone. There were many others who felt the same way." —“Refuse to Stand Silently By

  1. “I don't think well of people who are prejudiced against people because of race. The only way for prejudiced people to change is for them to decide for themselves that all human beings should be treated fairly. We can't force them to think that way.” Scholastic Books student Q+A, 1997

  1. “People need to free their minds of racial prejudice and believe in equality for all and freedom regardless of race.” Scholastic Books student Q+A, 1997

  1.  “As far back as I can remember, I knew there was something wrong with our way of life when people could be mistreated because of the color of their skin.” NAACP Meeting, 1956

  1. "At the time I was arrested, I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in." USA Today

  1. “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” —“Rosa Parks, My Story

  1. "There were times when it would have been easy to fall apart or to go in the opposite direction, but somehow I felt that if I took one more step, someone would come along to join me." —”Reflections by Rosa Parks: The Quiet Strength and Faith of a Woman Who Changed a Nation,” 1994

  1. “To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try.” —”Reflections by Rosa Parks: The Quiet Strength and Faith of a Woman Who Changed a Nation,” 1994

  1. “I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time... there was an opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner.” NPR Interview, 1992

  1. "If you want to be respected for your actions, then your behavior must be above reproach. If our lives demonstrate that we are peaceful, humble, and trusted, this is recognized by others." —”Reflections by Rosa Parks: The Quiet Strength and Faith of a Woman Who Changed a Nation,” 1994

  1. "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." Conversation with Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy during a celebration of her life at Howard University, 1998

  1. "Nothing in the Golden Rule says that others will treat us as we have treated them. It only says that we must treat others in a way that we would want to be treated." —”Reflections by Rosa Parks: The Quiet Strength and Faith of a Woman Who Changed a Nation,” 1994

  1. "To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try." —“Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue with Today’s Youth,” 1997

  1. “I do the very best I can to look upon life with optimism and hope and looking forward to a better day, but I don’t think there is any such thing as complete happiness. It pains me that there is still a lot of Klan activity and racism. I think when you say you’re happy, you have everything that you need and everything that you want, and nothing more to wish for. I haven’t reached that stage yet.” Parks’ response when asked if she was happy in retirement

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always