Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist who became famous for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. When she was arrested for this act of defiance, the city erupted into what would become known as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which lasted 381 days and helped launch the American Civil Rights Movement.
The civil rights movement was already underway when Rosa Parks met Martin Luther King Jr., who would go on to become one of the most important figures in the movement.
Parks had been active in many aspects of the movement before meeting King. She had been part of an NAACP Youth Council since 1943, had led protests against racial discrimination at her place of work (the Montgomery Fair department store), and had been involved with voter registration drives and other events that supported civil rights causes.
King was also deeply involved with activism before he met Rosa Parks. He had been preaching since 1931 and could be found speaking out against racism at churches and other venues across Alabama.
When they met in 1955 during the Montgomery Bus Boycott—which was sparked by Parks’ arrest—it wasn’t long before they developed a close friendship. They shared similar viewpoints about civil rights issues and worked together.