Synopses & Reviews
2014 NAACP Image Award Winner: Outstanding Literary Work – Biography / Auto Biography
2013 Letitia Woods Brown Award from the Association of Black Women Historians
Choice Top 25 Academic Titles for 2013
The definitive political biography of Rosa Parks examines her six decades of activism, challenging perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement
Presenting a corrective to the popular notion of Rosa Parks as the quiet seamstress who, with a single act, birthed the modern civil rights movement, Theoharis provides a revealing window into Parks’s politics and years of activism. She shows readers how this civil rights movement radical sought—for more than a half a century—to expose and eradicate the American racial-caste system in jobs, schools, public services, and criminal justice.
"In her introduction to this biography, Brooklyn College political scientist Theoharis (coauthor of Freedom North: Black Freedom Struggles Outside of the South) notes the common perception of Rosa Parks (1913 2005): 'hidden in plain sight, celebrated and paradoxically relegated to be a hero for children.' Into that gap, Theoharis submits a lavishly well-documented study of Parks's life and career as an activist. In tracing her work with the Montgomery NAACP and other groups from the 1930s onwards, and then following her move from Alabama after the 1956 bus boycott to Detroit, Theoharis maps a lifetime devoted to civil rights, thereby destabilizing our notions of Parks as a 'tired seamstress' who simply kept her seat on a bus one day in 1955. The 'iconography of Parks,' as Theoharis shows, can be used as an entry point for understanding the broader trends in the historiography of the civil rights movement. She notes how the 'national fable' of Parks offers 'its untarnished happy ending and its ability to reflect the best possibilities of the United States,' thus downplaying more subversive philosophies like the Black Power movement, which Parks also championed. Theoharis calls for a reconsideration of Parks's legacy and of the movement she, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and others are responsible for initiating. 16 b&w illus." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Jeanne Theoharis is professor of political science at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. She received an AB in Afro-American studies from Harvard College and a PhD in American culture from the University of Michigan. She is the author or coauthor of four books and articles on the black freedom struggle and the contemporary politics of race in the United States.
Table of Contents
Introduction: National Honor/Public Mythology: The Passing of Rosa Parks
Chapter 1: "A Life History of Being Rebellious": The Early Years of Rosa McCauley Parks
Chapter 2: "It Was Very Difficult To Keep Going When All Our Work Seemed To Be in Vain":The Civil Rights Movement Before the Bus Boycott
Chapter 3: "I Had Been Pushed As Far As I Could Stand To Be Pushed":Rosa Parks's Bus Stand
Chapter 4: "There Lived a Great People":The Montgomery Bus Boycott
Chapter 5: "It Is Fine To Be a Heroine But the Price Is High": The Suffering of Rosa Parks
Chapter 6: "The Northern Promised Land That Wasn't": Rosa Parks and the Black Freedom Struggle in Detroit
Chapter 7: "Any Move to Show We Are Dissatisfied:" Mrs. Parks in the Black Power Era
Conclusion: "Racisim is Still Alive":Negotiating the Politics of Being a Symbol