Not long after Rosa Parks’s death, the states of Michigan and Ohio marked December 1, 2005, as Rosa Parks Day, and began attempts to make the day an annual observance. In New York City representatives of numerous activist groups declared December 1, 2005, as a Rosa Parks Anniversary Nationwide Day of Absence Against Poverty, Racism and War.
The Day was supported by more than 1,000 local and national civil rights and antiwar organizations, such as chapters of the NAACP, the Troops Out Now Coalition, Teamsters National Black Caucus, and many others.
Observing Rosa Parks Day takes many forms. Across the United States, transit agencies honored the civil rights champion by reserving a front seat in Parks’s name on public buses. The American Public Transportation Association and more than 50 transit agencies around the nation took part.
Interior bus cards also focused on Parks and her contributions. Those organizing around the Rosa Parks Nationwide Day of Absence held marches to protest racism and war and to demand action to alleviate poverty.
Activists called for students, educators, civic organizations, labor unions, clergy, professionals, and others to take a day off from school, work, and shopping and to participate in teach-ins on civil rights and anti-war movements.
They also held peace vigils. Schools and libraries observed the day with a variety of activities, such as reenactments of Rosa Parks’s refusal to leave her seat on the bus, showings of the film The Rosa Parks Story (2002), and readings from her autobiography.
On December 1, 2005, the Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute in Detroit began a 381-day commemoration with various educational programs and activities to recognize the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks’s arrest and the duration of the Montgomery bus boycott.