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At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and resistance--a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Powerby Danielle L. Mcguire
Synopses & Reviews
Rosa Parks was often described as a sweet and reticent elderly woman whose tired feet caused her to defy segregation on Montgomery’s city buses, and whose supposedly solitary, spontaneous act sparked the 1955 bus boycott that gave birth to the civil rights movement.
The truth of who Rosa Parks was and what really lay beneath the 1955 boycott is far different from anything previously written.
In this groundbreaking and important book, Danielle McGuire writes about the rape in 1944 of a twenty-four-year-old mother and sharecropper, Recy Taylor, who strolled toward home after an evening of singing and praying at the Rock Hill Holiness Church in Abbeville, Alabama. Seven white men, armed with knives and shotguns, ordered the young woman into their green Chevrolet, raped her, and left her for dead. The president of the local NAACP branch office sent his best investigator and organizer to Abbeville. Her name was Rosa Parks. In taking on this case, Parks launched a movement that ultimately changed the world.
The author gives us the never-before-told history of how the civil rights movement began; how it was in part started in protest against the ritualistic rape of black women by white men who used economic intimidation, sexual violence, and terror to derail the freedom movement; and how those forces persisted unpunished throughout the Jim Crow era when white men assaulted black women to enforce rules of racial and economic hierarchy. Black women’s protests against sexual assault and interracial rape fueled civil rights campaigns throughout the South that began during World War II and went through to the Black Power movement. The Montgomery bus boycott was the baptism, not the birth, of that struggle.
At the Dark End of the Street describes the decades of degradation black women on the Montgomery city buses endured on their way to cook and clean for their white bosses. It reveals how Rosa Parks, by 1955 one of the most radical activists in Alabama, had had enough. “There had to be a stopping place,” she said, “and this seemed to be the place for me to stop being pushed around.” Parks refused to move from her seat on the bus, was arrested, and, with fierce activist Jo Ann Robinson, organized a one-day bus boycott.
The protest, intended to last twenty-four hours, became a yearlong struggle for dignity and justice. It broke the back of the Montgomery city bus lines and bankrupted the company.
We see how and why Rosa Parks, instead of becoming a leader of the movement she helped to start, was turned into a symbol of virtuous black womanhood, sainted and celebrated for her quiet dignity, prim demeanor, and middle-class propriety—her radicalism all but erased. And we see as well how thousands of black women whose courage and fortitude helped to transform America were reduced to the footnotes of history.
A controversial, moving, and courageous book; narrative history at its best.
A history of America's civil rights movement traces the pivotal influence of sexual violence that victimized African American women for centuries, revealing Rosa Parks's contributions as an anti-rape activist years before her heroic bus protest.
In a supposedly solitary, spontaneous act, Rosa Parks sparked the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, which gave birth to the civil rights movement. Parks is often described as an unassuming woman whose fatigue caused her to defy the Jim Crow laws. The truth of who she was and what really started the boycott is far different, and, until now, unwritten . . .
In this groundbreaking book, Danielle L. McGuire brilliantly reinterprets the history of America’s civil rights movement in terms of the ritualistic rape and sexualized violence that for almost three hundred years had been perpetrated against black women. She looks at the crucial role played by African American women, at people like Rosa Parks, already a seasoned antirape activist more than a decade before the bus boycott, who turned a one-day protest on the buses into a three-decade war against white supremacy that changed the world.
At the Dark End of the Street is a revelation—and certain to be one of the most talked about books of the year.
About the Author
Danielle L. McGuire was born in Janesville, Wisconsin. She attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and received her PhD from Rutgers. She is an assistant professor in the history department at Wayne State University in Detroit and lives in Detroit.
Table of Contents
"They'd kill me if I told" — "Negroes every day are being molested" — "Walking in pride and dignity" — "There's open season on Negroes now" — "It was like all of us had been raped" — "A black woman's body was never hers alone" — Sex and civil rights — "Power to the ice pick!" — Epilogue: "we all lived in fear for years."
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History and Social Science » African American Studies » General