A #8216;nice, quiet#039; woman

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 3, 2005

This Thursday thousands of people flocked to Montgomery to be part of the celebration remembering the courageous act of one black woman a half-century ago.

On Dec.1, 1955, a seamstress named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man and was subsequently jailed for the act.

Her actions sparked a protest that lasted 381 days and became known as the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Many have touted the protest as the catalyst for the civil rights movement in America.

A resident of Crowne Nursing Home of Greenville remembers those days well.

John Owens, 93, lived and worked in Montgomery for many years.

He worked for the Dependable Cab Company for several years before going into business as co-owner of his own cab company.

He knew many people involved in the boycott, including its central figure.

&#8220Yes, I knew Rosa Parks. She was one of my regular passengers,” Owens recalled.

He remembers a &#8220nice, quiet” woman who was married to a barber.

&#8220Rosa Parks worked as a seamstress at Montgomery Fair back then.”

Owens admired Parks, a person who seemed unlikely to spark such a storm of controversy.

There have been improvements in life for the black community since the days of strict segregation, Owens said.

The father of two said, unlike many other black employees of the era, he was lucky during his career to have &#8220a good boss who didn't put a lot of restrictions on him.”

&#8220There was a lot of unrest back in those days. There have been a whole lot of changes in my lifetime, mostly for the better,” the senior citizen recalled.