DETROIT, Aug. 30 -- Rosa Lee Parks, the 81-year-old woman widely regarded as the mother of the U.S. civil rights movement, was assaulted Tuesday in her west-side Detroit home, police said. Parks, who snubbed segregation by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955, was listed in stable condition in Detroit Receiving Hospital. Police spokeswoman Officer Allene Ray said a man broke into Parks' home through the back door at about 8:15 p.m. EDT. The intruder demanded money, and she complied. After handing over an undetermined amount of cash, Ray said Parks was struck in the face and chest with an unknown object. The assailant fled and remained at large late Tuesday. Ray described Parks as 'conscious and alert' while being treated for swelling on the right side of her face and bruises to the chest. A nursing supervisor for Detroit Receiving told UPI that Parks was seeing a doctor and was in stable condition. It was unclear whether she would have to stay at the hospital overnight, the supervisor said. Parks moved to Detroit in the 1960s. Despite her age she has remained active in the Motor City, appearing frequently at political gatherings. On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks was a 43-year-old seamstress who boarded a Cleveland Ave. bus in Montgomery for a 15-minute ride to her home. When the bus filled up, the driver asked Parks and three other blacks to yield their seats to white riders.
Parks refused and was jailed and tried. She eventually was fined $5 for violating the city's segregation law. The incident led to the Montgomery boycott and brought national attention not only to Parks but to the then little-known Martin Luther King Jr., who later called Parks 'the great fuse' of the American civil rights movement. Almost a year after Parks' arrest, on Nov. 13, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Alabama's state and local bus segregation laws unconstitutional. Parks later moved to Detroit with her husband, a barber, and her mother. There she became active in youth work and guidance counseling and worked as a receptionist in the office of U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D- Mich., before retiring. Rosa Lee Parks was born in Tuskegee, Ala., Feb. 4, 1913. Parks was presented the 'Woman of Courage' award by the Wonder Woman Foundation in October 1984. The award's citation said: 'Her quiet and courageous act changed the face of America as it viewed black people and redirected the course of history.' Asked then in a UPI interview what further strides were needed in the civil rights cause, Parks said: 'There's constantly something to do, just to try to make things better. All human beings should have equal opportunity.' 'It will never be a perfect world but we can improve it. I would change all wrong and improve freedom, opportunity and just peace in the world.'