In the early 1990s a special relationship developed between San Diego Mesa College and civil rights activist Rosa Parks. At the invitation of then Prof. Elizabeth Hamilton, Rosa Parks visited the campus on February 4 and 5, 1992 and again in 1995. In 1993, the campus was named the western branch of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, which was active for several years. Following Rosa Park's death in 2005 at the age of 92, the college explored the possibility of honoring the late civil rights activist. The following provides a history of major events surrounding the life or Rosa Parks and her involvement with Mesa College.
- February 28, 2010 - MTS begins transit service grounds of Mesa College, with outgoing Route 44 stopping at the Rosa Parks Transit Center.
- February 25, 2010 - The Rosa Parks Memorial Project is unveiled and dedicated as the Rosa Parks Transit Center.
- April 15, 2009 - A community forum previewing plans for Rosa Parks Memorial Project to be Built at Mesa College is conducted at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center .
- Spring 2009 - Construction begins on the Rosa Parks Memorial Project at San Diego Mesa College.
- November, 2008 – The Rosa Parks Memorial Project is awarded to a public art team composed of Dr. Gerda Govine-Ituarte, Ed.D., Nina Karavasiles and Mesa College Prof. Mario Lara.
- 2005 The Mesa College Foundation begins the process to create a memorial project to honor Rosa Parks.
- October 24, 2005 - Rosa Parks dies at her home in Detroit.
- 1999 - Rosa Parks receives the Congressional Medal of Freedom.
- November 8, 1996 - The Mesa College “Quiet Strength 40th Anniversary Celebration commemorating Mrs. Parks' historic act of civil disobedience in 1955 is cancelled due to her frail health.
- April 6, 1995 - Rosa Parks presents the Elder and Wiser Award to Chief Jo Ag Quis Ho Oren Lyons at an event at the Mesa College Apolliad Theater.
- 1993 - San Diego Mesa College is named the San Diego-Mexico branch of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Human Rights and Self Development and is active for several years.
- 1993 - Rosa Parks presents the Elder and Wiser Award to celebrated civil rights attorney Leo Branton, Jr.
- Feb. 5, 1992 - Rosa Parks speaks at Mesa College. More than 2,200 school children from throughout San Diego County gather to pay tribute to Rosa Parks at the Mesa College stadium.
- Feb. 4, 1992 - An Evening with Rosa Parks. Mesa College benefit featuring Rosa Parks, Cyril Neville, the UCSD Gospel Choir, Peter Spraque, keyboardist Clarence Bell and vocalist Bobie Williams.
- December, 1991 - Mesa College Professor Elizabeth Hamilton was so moved after screening a video tribute to Rosa Parks for her students that she personally financed bringing the civil rights activist to San Diego.
- December 1, 1955 - Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus to a white passenger. She is arrested, tried and convicted of violating a local ordinance. Her act spurs a year-long boycott of Montgomery buses by the black community, who made up 70% of the riders. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was appointed the spokesperson for the Bus Boycott and taught non-violence to all participants.