(WOMENSENEWS)–Rosa Parks‘ most historic hour may have occurred on the bus in December 1955 but a moment that perhaps revealed more of her strength of character came 40 years later.
On Aug. 30, 1994, at the age of 81, Parks was mugged in her own home by a young black man, Joseph Skipper. Skipper broke down her back door and then claimed he had chased away an intruder. He asked for a tip. When Parks went upstairs to get her pocketbook, he followed her. She gave him the $3 he initially asked for, but he demanded more. When she refused, he proceeded to hit her.
“I tried to defend myself and grabbed his shirt,” she explained. “Even at 81 years of age, I felt it was my right to defend myself.”
He hit her again, punching her in the face and shaking her hard, and threatened to hurt her further. She relented and gave him all her money–$103. Hurt and badly shaken, she called Elaine Steele who lived across the street and had become a key source of support. Steele called the police who took 50 minutes to arrive. Meanwhile, the word went out that someone had mugged Parks.
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