December 1st’s Five Greatest Milestones in Civil Rights!

A Brief History

Apparently there is something about the first day of December that makes it significant to the history of civil rights concerning persons of African ancestry.

Digging Deeper

Digging deeper we find, first, that in 1768 the former slave ship Fredensborg sank from unknown causes (maybe cosmic karma?) of the coast of Tromoy, Norway.  Although not carrying slaves at that time, it had previously been involved in the “triangular trade” of slaves and goods in the Caribbean.

Second, in 1834 in accordance with the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, slavery was abolished in the Cape Colony (now South Africa).

Third, in 1862, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered a State of the Union speech in which he reaffirmed the need to abolish slavery as stated in his Emancipation Proclamation 10 weeks prior.

Fourth, in 1865 just after the end of the American Civil War, which ultimately resulted in the end of state-sanctioned slavery in the United States of America, Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina was established by Reverend H.M. Turner of the American Baptist Home Mission Society as the first primarily “colored” (term used then for African-Americans) university in the southern U.S.

Fifth, finally, and most famously, in 1955, Rosa Parks, the celebrated civil rights pioneer, triggered the “Montgomery Bus Boycott” in Alabama by refusing to sit in the back of the bus as decreed by segregation laws of that time.  She held her nerve even when threatened with arrest.  She later recalled, “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true.  I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then.  I was forty-two.  No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”  For her courageous actions, she has been hailed as “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”, while being labeled the fourth most influential woman in history.

So there you have it: five groundbreaking events in civil rights history all of which happened on December 1st!  Now, what will be the next milestone in civil rights to occur on that day?  Perhaps some of our readers may be brave and noble enough to help bring about such changes!

Historical Evidence

Most of the above events have been the subject of numerous scholarly works.  For some good starting places, please consider our suggestions below to be preferably read in the order listed below:

The Slave Ship Fredensborg (Hardcover)


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Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty (Carter G Woodson Award Book (Awards)) (Hardcover)


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Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (Graphic History) (Paperback)


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Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War.

  • Breann G.

    My favorite and the most interesting was Rosa Parks. She was so brave and so bold. She stood up for what she believed in regardless of the consequences.

  • Melissa Smith

    I think the most interesting was, by far, Rosa Parks. She was incredibly brave for doing what she did. It is something that just about every person knows about and was very influential.

  • Brent F.

    I think that Rosa Parks was the most interesting. She risked everything over a seat on the bus. That was a very gutsy move by her.

  • Kia T

    I believe that Rosa Parks was the most interesting because she risked her own life over a seat on the bus to prove a point.

  • T Goff

    Although I can see the significance in all of these milestones, I would agree with the other students thus far. Rosa Park’s bravery and actions caused quite the domino effect. Her single action showed other “ordinary” individuals (those who were not in the news like Martin Luther King) they could make a difference.

  • Kathryn R.

    I’m going to hop on the bandwagon and say that Rosa Parks is the most interesting milestone on the list. Though the others all contributed to the civil rights movement if you asked people to identify one of the events on the list I guarantee most people aren’t likely to remember the other four.

  • Lynnette B.

    I had no idea that South Africa ever had slaves, so I found that bit of information very interesting. All of the events are significant, however, as they helped to shape history.

  • Shelby R.

    I think that the first milestone, the slave ship sinking, is the most interesting. I think it is ironic that it sunk for unknown reasons after being a part in slave trading.

  • Brooke K.

    I think Rosa Parks and the bus boycott was the most interesting because it really shows how one person can make a difference.

  • T Harvey

    I do believe that Rosa Parks and the bus boycott were the most important. This is important events that helped lead up to desegregation in the US.

  • Mallory M.

    I believe that Rosa Parks and the bus boycott was the most interesting. She was a black woman standing up for what she believed in and I personally think that is pretty awesome.

  • Tyler Cates

    I think that Rosa Parks and the bus boycott was the most important. She stood up for what she thought was right and I think that she did the right thing.

  • A. Byers

    I was surprised to hear of the fourth milestone, that colored universities began as far back as 1865. I think that was a big step in African American progress because it gave former slaves a place to go to find better work.

  • K Hummel

    I think that Rosa Parks and the bus incident was the most important. She stood up for what she believed and she made a difference, whether it was legal or not.

  • cbierman

    How come the establishment of colored universities are not in history books? That along with Abe Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation were huge milestones.

  • Andrea O.

    I think that Rosa Parks and the bus boycott was the most important. She stood up for what she believed in and faught her battle.

  • Gabe V

    I agree that the fifth point, the Rosa Parks point, was the most important. She actively stood up to the law at that time and gave morale to the entire cause. There’s a reason she was picked as the fourth most influential person in the world.

  • Jillian S.

    I believe that the fifth point made above, about Rosa Parks, was the most significant. I feel this way because all the previous points made led Rosa Parks to have the courage to stand up for what she thought was right, and give people around the nation to stand up for what they believed in!

  • Ethan R.

    I thought that the most important point made was the ending of the Civil War. If the war had not ended and the Union lost there’s no way of telling what would have happened in history.

  • Carie E.

    I choose President Lincoln’s State of the Union Speech, he set foot many of the equality rights movements that continue today. All of those would not be as important as they are without his empowering speech.

  • CLM

    I think that the little paragraph on Rosa Parks was the most interesting event. She stood up for herself and I believe what she did was encouraging and led more blacks to stand up for themselves. Instead of going on with their lives being mistreated.

  • Shelby K

    I liked the point made about Rosa Parks, my favorite part was the full quote. “…the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” This is a good representation of how she was feeling during this time.

  • RSiburt

    I think the most interesting of the five is Rosa Parks refusing to move on the bus. It was a great turning point in desegregating the South.

  • A.Dunn

    The most interesting part is Rosa Parks. Just imagine being a female african american woman and standing up for was right even though others were against you? She was truly a hero .

  • LY

    I will have to go with Rosa Parks as well. Maybe it is because of the publicity surrounding the events, but that is a very well known incident and most school age children know the story of Rosa Parks so it continues to influence, even today.

  • N Craig

    The most amazing part is Rosa Parks. She was such a strong woman who fought for what she believed in.

  • HB

    Rosa Parks was an amazing person, and definitely the most interesting of the article. To be able to stand up for herself and others and be so strong and empowering takes a lot of guts. She is truly inspiring.

  • MS

    My history teacher in high school said many times in class that Rosa Parks didn’t just randomly sit at the front of the bus. Like the sit-ins in diners at the time, Rosa Parks did her own sit in on the bus. He believed she planned to sit-in that day, although I’m unsure if that is true. I definitely think she has a great lasting influence on society.

  • RJ

    It is refreshing to remember these important days for civil rights movements yet it is still readily apparent that we as a society have a long ways to go. Dialogue must be opened up from all parties to speak about the fundamentals for how the state is run. Only time will tell but I believe improvements can still be made.

  • MO

    I think out of all of these incidents, the most well known and memorable one would be Rosa Parks’ incident. They are all important, and I can’t believe they all happened on December 1st, makes me wonder what other events for a certain cause line up on the same day throughout hundreds of years.

  • KH

    This a great article. It is interesting to see so many
    significant events happen on December 1st. I enjoyed reading the
    quote from Rosa Parks. Many people are under the impression that she was an
    older woman, physically tired from a long day of work. She refused to give up
    her seat because she was mentally tired of the rules and discrimination. She
    deserves to be known as the first lady of civil rights.

  • Cheyenne Johnson

    Great article. I like to see that so many great things happened on the same day even if they were in different years. I enjoy reading about civil rights and this really sparked my interests.

  • Amber Moore

    I love how Rosa Parks spoke out about the whole “being tired” thing. People sometimes think they understand the motives of another and end up marring what their true intent was. She was just plain “tired of giving in.”

  • MB

    Very interesting article about all of the different Civil Rights movements incidents. People sticking up for what they believe in.

  • Danielle

    It’s interesting that all of these big events happened on the same day. Rosa Parks’ quote is so powerful.

  • Diana N

    I didn’t know so many things happened on December 1st.

  • Brett Nagy

    Good article! I never knew that so many great things happened on this day.

  • Meghan R

    I knew from class that Rosa Parks refused to move on this date, but I was unaware of the other interesting events that also happened on December first.

  • Raquel F

    Rosa Parks truly deserves the titles of “the first lady of civil rights” “the mother of the freedom movement” and the fourth most influential woman in history.

  • Emmaline K

    I didn’t realize Rosa Park’s monumental and brave act was actually titled, “Montgomery Bus Boycott.”

  • Erika Grumbach

    Rosa Parks was a very influential and inspirational woman. She stood up for herself and her rights in a time where that was unheard of and that makes her admirable.

  • Nicole Z

    I never realized how many things happened on Dec 1st. Rosa Parks was a very inspirational woman.

  • Sabrina Peelman

    Truly an inspirational article to read because of all the accomplishments

  • Brandon

    Even more reason to love my birth month

  • Melody Ortiz

    very interesting to find out how many big events had actually happened on Dec 1st

  • AM

    Who knew that December 1st was such a significant day in history?!

  • MM

    I never knew that president Lincoln’s state of the union speech was held on December 1st so many year ago. This is an important date considering so many other events all on it.

  • Jordin Vidmar

    The common story that you hear about Rosa Parks was how she refused to move her seat to the back of an all white bus. It was interesting to hear a little more about her.

  • Lori Caudill

    I was not aware so many civil rights events occurred on December 1st. Reading about Rosa Parks never gets mundane.

  • Diana Minich

    Interesting to read all the events that happened on December 1st. I was not aware of all of them. Definitely karma concerning the slave ship.

  • Jennifer Maurer

    I never knew that so many civil rights events occurred on the same date. What an incredible coincidence.

  • Lydia Ott

    I did not know that all of these events took place on December 1st, but maybe it all happened on the same date for a reason. Also, I had also heard that Rosa Parks did not give her seat up on the bus because she was tired from working, now I know that is not the tired she was referring to.

  • Breanna Beckley

    I thought that if the war had not ended and the Union lost there was no way of telling what would happen in history.

  • Lessie Parish

    I believe all of these things happened on this date for a reason. Some of these things I had never heard of before.

  • Elizabeth Bon

    Very interesting article! I guess there is some reason for the repeated date. Love the story about Rosa Parks

  • Ben McClay

    One thing that really struck out to me was the fact that Rosa Parks was so discriminated against. This really strikes out to me because I went to a predominately white high school where little to no racism occurred.

  • Dakota Zimmerman

    My favorite thing about this article is simply the photo at the begining of rosa parks

  • Kala Strong

    I have always admired Rosa Parks. It truly shows that it only takes the courage of one person to make a change.

  • Michaela Ping

    I love these little coincidences by the universe. Although are the patterns only there because we want to see them?

  • Brandon Wagner

    The article stated that Rosa Parks was the fourth most influential woman in the world. I was curious to who the other women were. After clicking on the link I found it interesting that Rosa Parks was the only African American on the list of the ten most influential women.

  • Audrey Manahan

    How ironic that all of these events happened on the same day yet so many years apart. Rosa Parks is obviously a famous woman, and I loved reading her quote about why she did not get up.

  • Taylor Young

    I always reading about Rosa Parks but it was really nice to hear more background information about her then what she is known for not moving her seat on the bus. I admire her strong-willed personality and how she has changed our country so much since that day.

  • Alyssa Hanes

    Rosa Parks has always had a special place in my heart and I have always truly admired her. I cannot believe how much she was actually discriminated against because of just wanting to express her beliefs. I also found it interesting that she was the only African American woman in the list, incredible.

  • Rose Jepson

    I always knew about Rosa Parks and the the event that started a movement, but I didn’t know it happened on December 1st. Now I can tell my mom she shares her birthday with this famous historical event,

  • Shannon Read

    Of course I have heard of Rosa Parks several times. It is hard to imagine how tough it would have been and the discrimination that she endured.

  • Jingshan Jiang

    The path to achieve democracy and stand against discrimination is abrupt and rugged. We can have a better live because of those pioneers who just like Rosa Parks.

  • Shuling He

    So great to hear more about Rosa Parks, she was bold. Last time I heard about her was in my class about America Law.

  • Daina Thomas

    I love learning about Rosa Parks and what she’s done to help with equality.

  • Natalie antonio

    I really always enjoyed listening and reading articles about this time period, especially Rosa Parks.

  • Allison Lester

    Rosa Parks to this day serves not only as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement but as a powerful woman in history. Her refusal to sit on the bus ignited such a powerful protest.

  • Kristin Fellure

    Rosa Parks was so courageous! I really enjoyed reading about her bravery.

  • LF

    It’s sad to see how long it took for these people to finally be free.

  • ES

    It’s inspiring to see how they stood up for themselves in order to be free.

  • SR

    Rosa parks is such an ideal women in history

  • Keagan Frey

    I guess December 1st is a day of conspiracies.