65 years ago, one woman stood up for civil rights by simply sitting down

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her simple act of defiance would help end segregation laws in the South.

Rosa Parks seated toward the front of the bus, Montgomery, Alabama, 1956.

It was on this day in 1955 when a simple act of defiance elevated a seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, into a pivotal symbol in America's civil rights movement, CNN wrote.

Parks was on her way home from work that evening and took a seat in the front of the black section of a city bus in Montgomery.

The bus filled up, and the bus driver demanded she move so a white male passenger could have her seat.

"The driver wanted us to stand up, the four of us. We didn't move at the beginning, but he says, 'Let me have these seats.' And the other three people moved, but I didn't," she once said.

When Parks refused to give up her seat, a police officer arrested her.

As the officer took her away, she recalled that she asked, "Why do you push us around?"

The officer's response: "I don't know, but the law's the law, and you're under arrest."

She added, "I only knew that, as I was being arrested, that it was the very last time that I would ever ride in humiliation of this kind."

Four days later, Parks was convicted of disorderly conduct and fined USD 14.

Parks refused to give up her seat, and police arrested her. Four days later, Parks was convicted of disorderly conduct.

The events triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system by blacks that was organized by a 26-year-old Baptist minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The boycott led to a Supreme Court ruling that desegregated public transportation in Montgomery. But it wasn't until the 1964 Civil Rights Act that all public accommodations nationwide were desegregated.

Facing regular threats and having lost her department store job because of her activism, Parks moved from Alabama to Detroit in 1957. She later joined the staff of U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat.

Conyers, who first met Parks during the early days of the civil rights struggle, recalled Monday that she worked on his original congressional staff when he first was elected to the House of Representatives in 1964.

"I think that she, as the mother of the new civil rights movement, has left an impact not just on the nation, but on the world," he told CNN in a telephone interview. "She was a real apostle of the nonviolence movement."

He remembered her as someone who never raised her voice -- an eloquent voice of the civil rights movement.

"You treated her with deference because she was so quiet, so serene -- just a very special person," he said, adding that "there was only one" Rosa Parks.

Parks co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development to help young people pursue educational opportunities, get them registered to vote and work toward racial peace.

"As long as there is unemployment, war, crime and all things that go to the infliction of man's inhumanity to man, regardless -- there is much to be done, and people need to work together," she once said.

Even into her 80s, she was active on the lecture circuit, speaking at civil rights groups and accepting awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999.

"This medal is encouragement for all of us to continue until all have rights," she said at the June 1999 ceremony for the latter medal.

Parks was the subject of the documentary "Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks," which received a 2002 Oscar nomination for best documentary short.

Parks died at age 92 in October 2005.

Tu Anh