Rosa Parks' legacy still felt in Memphis - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Rosa Parks' legacy still felt in Memphis

As Mary Brewer waited for a MATA bus Tuesday afternoon, she remembered a time when the ride was rough.

"I'm going back to the back," she said.

That's her choice now, but that was not the case on December 1, 1955. That was the day Rosa Parks boarded a Montgomery, Alabama bus and did the unthinkable: the 42-year-old seamstress refused to get up for a white passenger.

"We used to have to go to the back," Brewer said, "and after she did what she did, through Jesus, she made a big change."

Mary Brewer wouldn't give her age, saying only that she's in her 80s. Unlike she did in her childhood, Mary no longer worries that she'll hear the bus driver unseat her tired legs.

She remembered how life changed when Rosa's personal protest led to the 381 day Montgomery Bus Boycott, and an end to segregated buses.

"Now we can just sit anywhere," she said, "and you know that's a blessing from God."

Now she chooses seats in the back for comfort on her way home from paying bills and buying groceries downtown.

88.9% percent of the people who ride MATA buses today are African American. Mary said she's glad to have a choice.

"I've got a choice now," she said. "It feels good."

Mary said you can see that choice on the faces of children, as Rosa Parks' legacy stands strong on the streets of Memphis.

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