"I remember going to sleep as a girl hearing the Klan ride at night and hearing a lynching and being afraid the house would burn down," Parks said. In the same interview, she cited her lifelong acquaintance with fear as the reason for her relative fearlessness in deciding to appeal her conviction during the bus boycott. "I didn't have any special fear," she said. "It was more of a relief to know that I wasn't alone."
In 1957, Parks and her husband moved to Detroit, where she served on the staff of Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. The Southern Christian Leadership Council established an annual Rosa Parks Freedom Award in her honor.
After the death of her husband, Parks founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development. The institute sponsors an annual summer program for teenagers called Pathways to Freedom. The young people tour the country in buses, under adult supervision, learning the history of their country and of the civil rights movement.
"I do the very best I can to look upon life with optimism and hope and looking forward to a better day, but I don't think there is anything such as complete happiness," she said in an interview. "It pains me that there is still a lot of Klan activity and racism. I think when you say you're happy, you have everything that you need and everything that you want, and nothing more to wish for. I haven't reached that stage yet."
Parks suffered from dementia since 2002. She was rarely seen in public after 2001 even though a very public lawsuit was filed in her name against the rap group OutKast over their song, "Rosa Parks."
An April 2005 settlement ended the 1999 lawsuit against OutKast. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed. Under the terms of the settlement, Parks was to receive money to be used for her care and to pay bills.
As part of the settlement, Sony BMG, OutKast, Arista Records, LaFace Records, and the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute will become partners in developing educational programs for youths that emphasize the role Parks played "in making America a better place for all races," according to a statement from Archer's law office.