Posted on December 2, 2005

Tourist Refuses to Give Up Rosa Parks’ Tribute Seat

Ireland Online, Dec. 2

A British tourist refused to give up a seat on a New York City bus which was being kept unoccupied in honour of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, it was reported today.

Fiona Humphreys, 55, was told she was sitting in a seat symbolically reserved for Parks to mark the 50th anniversary of her refusal to move to the back of an Alabama bus for a white man.

But Humphreys refused to get up, according to the New York Daily News.

“I think I’ve got a right to sit here,” she said, on board the M-1 bus which traverses Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.

Posters of Parks were taped to the first seat behind the driver on all city buses, asking passengers to leave them empty in her honour.

Public transport systems around the country took part in the tribute.

Some passengers unwittingly sat in the seat, but promptly got up when told of the tribute.

Many patted the seat and expressed gratitude to the former seamstress.

Humphreys was reportedly the only one who did not.

Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat on December 1, 1955 helped spark the modern civil rights movement in America. She died last month aged 92.

President Bush signed a Bill yesterday authorising a statue of Parks in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

“What had begun as a simple act of civil disobedience ended up galvanising the modern movement for civil rights,” he said.

She will be the first black woman represented in Statuary Hall, where many states have statues honouring notable people in their history.