Parks was taken to jail. She asked for a drink of water but they refused. Finally she was allowed a call home. Her mother was terrified when she heard Rosa was in jail, worried she’d been beaten. Raymond promised to come get her right away, but she knew it would take awhile because he didn’t have a car and needed to find a bail bondsmen.
Two iconic pictures of Parks being fingerprinted (seen here) and of her mugshot are not from this arrest, but rather from her arrest in February 1956 during boycott when she was arrested along with other boycott organizers for their role in the boycott. But they are regularly mis-attributed to this arrest.
While in jail, Parks struck up a conversation with her cellmate, who had been in jail for two months. The woman had picked up a hatchet against a boyfriend who had struck her but had been unable to let her family know where she was. Parks promised to try to get in touch with the woman’s family. When the warden abruptly appeared for Parks, she hadn’t yet taken the paper where her cellmate had written down the phone numbers. The woman threw the small paper down the stairs as Parks left, and she surreptitiously picked it up. “The first thing I did the morning after I went to jail was to call the number the woman in the cell with me had written down on that crumpled piece of paper.” Parks reached the woman’s brother. A number of days later, she saw the woman on the street looking much better.
About 9:30 p.m, Rosa Parks was bailed out by E.D. Nixon and the Durrs. Raymond arrived shortly thereafter. They all went back to the Parks’ apartment to talk over the next step. Nixon, upon seeing Parks was okay, saw this as a bigger opportunity to challenge segregation. Given her reputation in the community and her bravery and ability to stand up under pressure, Nixon thought she could be an important test case to challenge bus segregation. Raymond at first didn’t like the idea, worried for their family’s safety and also that the community wouldn’t stick behind them (as had happened with Colvin). But late that night, after talking further with her mother and Raymond, Rosa Parks decided to proceed with the case. She called a young black lawyer and friend from the NAACP, Fred Gray, to ask him to represent her. The 25-year-old Gray, one of only two black lawyers in Montgomery and twelve in the state, agreed.
Related primary source: Rosa Parks. [Reflections on her arrest for refusing to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger, December 1, 1955], ca. 1956. Autograph manuscript. Rosa Parks Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.