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Remembering a remarkable woman (Rosa Parks)

On the 100th anniversary of her birth, Amy Goodman (of Democracy Now fame) writing in The Guardian in "Rosa Parks at 100: a great American rebel for racial justice" recalls Rosa Parks, the woman who so famously took on "the system" of segregation on buses in America's south back in 1955.

"On 1 December 1955, Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama, thus launching the modern-day civil rights movement. Monday 4 February is the 100th anniversary of her birth. After she died at the age of 92, in 2005, much of the media described her as a tired seamstress, no troublemaker.

But the media got it wrong. Rosa Parks was a first-class troublemaker.

Professor Jeanne Theoharis debunks the myth of the quiet seamstress in her new book The Rebellious Life of Mrs Rosa Parks. Theoharis told me:

"This is the story of a life history of activism, a life history that she would put it, as being 'rebellious,' that starts decades before her famous bus stand and ends decades after."

She was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, and raised to believe that she had a right to be respected, and to demand that respect. Jim Crow laws were entrenched then, and segregation was violently enforced. In Pine Level, where she lived, white children got a bus ride to school, while African American children walked. Rosa Parks recalled:

"But to me, that was a way of life; we had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world."


 

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