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Leadership is a process in which an individual influences or inspires a group of individuals to achieve a common objective. Common attributes of a leader should include having courage, tolerance, and most importantly, being committed to excellence at every opportunity. Some would even describe leadership as a personality trait; However, anyone can be a leader. Leadership is a learned trait and there are many styles a leader can possess. This includes servant leadership, laissez-daire leadership, transformational leadership, automatic leadership, transactional leadership, democratic leadership, etc.
Vision, accountability, patience, and maintaining a positive attitude are just a few characteristics you’ll find in an exceptional leader. An exceptional leader like American Civil Right Activist, Rosa Parks.
Parks was born as Rosa Louise McCauley on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Parks is the eldest child of James, a carpenter, and Leona Edwards McCauley, a schoolteacher. Throughout Parks childhood, she attended only segregated schools. At the age of eleven, Park’s mother enrolled her in Montgomery Industrial School for girls and then went on to Alabama State Teachers College Highschool.
In 1932, Parks married NAACP member, Raymond parks at the age of 19. She then received her high school diploma in 1934 and in 1943, Parks joined the NAACP as the chapter secretary of NAACP President E.D Nixon.
Often called the “mother” of the civil rights movement, parks resistance sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott was then launched nationwide in efforts to end racial discrimination and segregation. In December of 1955, the black seamstress from Montgomery, Al, refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery City Bus.
Parks refusal gained the attention of multiple supporters for equal rights for black people and is considered one of the first major acts of the Civil Rights Movement. As the boycott gained attention, thousands of black people took cabs, walked, and carpooled instead of riding the city buses. The boycott negatively impacted the bus company. Under E.D Nixon Leadership, Nixon chose Dr Martin Luther King Jr to organize the peaceful bus boycott. Not long after, Park’s case went all the way up to the Supreme Court and on November 13, 1956, the court banned segregation on public buses.
“A lot of other people didn’t disobey the rules because they didn’t want to get into trouble,” she told Scholastic readers in an interview. “I was willing to get arrested—it was worth the consequences.”
Rosa Parks was a symbol of courage, strength, and transformational leadership. Transformational leadership is a method of leadership in which an individual that inspires a group of people by creating an environment of intellectual stimulation. It also involves encouraging others and challenging the status quo. Parks nonverbal actions brought new and creative ways to challenge racial segregation and brought true meaning to “actions, speaks louder than words”. Parks also displayed silent leadership. The infamous boycott brought national attention in Montgomery, AL. As King made a speech to over 15,000 people that gathered in support of bus boycott, Parks was not permitted to make a speech and was to play a symbolic role like other woman in her time.
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