A peek into our collections, one object at a time

Rosa Parks’ Dress

November 30, 2010
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Rosa Parks’ Dress, 1955
Michael Barnes, Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Gift of the Black Fashion Museum founded by Lois K. Alexander-Lane.

Rosa Parks’ Dress, 1955 

Though Rosa Parks is best known for her role as a civil rights activist, the Alabama native also worked as a seamstress at the Montgomery Fair department store. She was on her way home from work Dec. 1, 1955, when she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger. At the time, she was working on the dress above, which was intended for personal use. The mustard and gray shawl-collar dress featured a crossover front bodice with a floral and leaf pattern printed on viscose fabric.