Rosa Parks' Prominence In The American Civil Rights Movement

3737 words - 15 pages

Rosa Parks has gone on to become a prominent figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. She has become known as the African-American woman who refused to give up her seat to a white man and move to the back of the bus. However, there was much more to her life than that one lone incident. The Rebellious Life of Rosa Parks by Jeane Theoharis looks into that life and highlights all the important events that have made Parks an American icon. Some of the events and achievements in Parks' life are not as commonly known as her famed bus incident, which usually takes center stage in any conversation in which her name is mentioned. Theoharis is a political science professor who is not shy when it ...view middle of the document...

She armed herself with knowledge as education became the focal point of her adult life.It is important to know the woman Parks was before the Montgomery bus incident. This is covered through the first half of Theoharis' book as she sheds light on who Parks was as a person. Prior to making her infamous stand on the bus, Parks was a secretary for the NAACP. Her involvement of the Civil Rights movement began long before that historic moment. She led the NAACP Youth Council and helped organize events to challenge segregation, including protests at the library, which discriminated blacks from borrowing books. Theoharis, The Rebellious Life, 33. So while Parks' action may have implied there was some motivating factors brought on by her involvement with the NCAAP, her act was simply something spontaneous. At one time---it was a simple act---one that Parks later said that she never thought would make her famous. Kevin Chappell, "Remembering Rosa Parks," Ebony, January 2006, 127. Theoharis makes it clear that no fame came to Parks prior to that incident, even in spite of the body of positive body of work she had put together. Parks played a part in raising money for the defense of the Scotsboro boys in 1930, a case that accused nine innocent black men of raping two white women. In 1943, Parks became one of the first women to become a member of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. In the 1940's and 1950's, the NAACP was considered was considered a radical organization by most southern whites, politicians and police officials. Peter Drier, "Rosa Parks: Angry not tired," Dissent, Winter 2002, 88. Nevertheless, the stereotypical image of the radical negro during that time did not bear a resemblance to the 42-year old Parks who refused to give up her seat on that Montgomery bus.One of the most significant scenes in the book is the one for which Parks is most famous. It is covered in chapter three of Theoharis' work entitled "I had been pushed as far as I could stand to be pushed." It is here where Theoharis relates the details of Parks refusal to give up her seat on a crowded bus to a white man. It was actually not a seat reserved for whites, but because the front section filled up with white passengers, Parks was expected to move to the back of the bus. She was subsequently arrested for this act, thus solidifying her long-standing place in American history. However, some of the story has become sensationalized and misinterpreted over the years. Some books written for younger children suggest she was a tired old lady who, after a hard day's work, just could not take having to give up her seat. Viv Sanders, "Rosa Parks & the Montgomery Bus Boycott," History Review, Sept 2006, 4. Critics have led to the development of this theory that commonly labels Parks as a 'tired seamstress.' However, Parks was fully aware of her actions and it was not just a spontaneous act. Theoharis stresses that Parks was fully aware of what she was doing and that there was...

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