SHE is known for an act of defiance which changed the course of American history.

But Rosa Parks, who died 15 years ago today, has a fascinating Glasgow connection.

The Alabama seamstress, who refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person, is descended from a Glaswegian great-grandfather.

James Percival, who is believed to have been born in the city to Irish immigrant parents around 1830, left Glasgow as a young man to work on the estate of the Reitz family in Montgomery County, Alabama.

He travelled as an ‘indentured servant’ to Charleston in South Carolina – a common way for Irish-Scots to get to America when they could not afford to pay.

Glasgow Times:

Writing in her autobiography, Rosa says: “They called him a Scotch-Irishman...he was brought over on a ship...but he was white though, he was not black.”

A New York Times article from 1992 explains that Percival was ‘imported’ to the estate in the town of Pine Level, where he was put to work.

It was not unusual for indentured servants to take the name of the family they worked for, but Percival kept his own.

Here, he met Mary Jane Nobles, a midwife and slave on the estate, and the couple got married in 1860.

They had nine children, including Rosena, who married Sylvester Edwards in 1882. Their youngest daughter Leona was Rosa Parks’ mother.

Rosa died, aged 92, on October 24, 2005 but she continues to inspire people across the world.

She was 42 when she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man.

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It was 1955 America, and segregation laws meant black people and white people must remain separate on buses, in restaurants and in other public places throughout the South, while legally sanctioned racial discrimination kept black people out of many jobs and neighbourhoods in the North.

Rosa was an active member of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

When a white man demanded her seat, she refused and was jailed and fined.

Speaking in 1992, Rosa said the ‘real reason’ she did not stand up when told to was “I felt I had a right to be treated as any other passenger. We had endured that kind of treatment for too long.”

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Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system organised by a then little-known Baptist minister called Martin Luther King Jr, who later earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his civil rights work.

“At the time I was arrested, I had no idea it would turn into this, “ Rosa said, 30 years later.

“It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.”

The Montgomery bus boycott marked the start of a movement which gathered pace until the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act, which banned racial discrimination in public places.

The Rosa Parks Library and Museum opened in November 2000 in Montgomery. It features a 1955-era bus.

Glasgow Times:

For a brief time during recent Black Lives Matter protests in the city centre, activists renamed Wilson Street in the Merchant City as Rosa Parks Street – something which would have undoubtedly made her Glasgow-born great-grandfather very proud…