"A REGULAR THING FOR ME"

“Not an intentional attempt to change the nation.”

That’s Bill Frist’s ahistorical description of Rosa Parks’ December 1, 1955 civil disobedience. I take on this and a few other peculiar gems of punditry on her life in an article for Campus Progress on-line here:

Unfortunately, much of what’s been said by politicians or journalists has been deeply misleading or flat-out false. It’s reinforced the 50-year-old myth that Parks was an apolitical woman who one day ambled into history out of simple physical exhaustion and then promptly ambled back out of it again. Such a myth only encourages needless knee-jerk skepticism of contemporary activists who are public about strong political convictions, work through political organizations, and formulate careful media strategies – all of which describe the real Rosa Parks, not the Rosa Parks most Americans remember.

More on this here and here.

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One thought on “"A REGULAR THING FOR ME"

  1. Your piece for Campus Progress on Rosa Parks was really great, and sheds light on the ways in which the history of the Civil Rights Movement has been obscured, in some cases to further certain political agendas. One thing that I think contributes greatly to the ways in which Rosa Parks has been memorialized and her actions remembered is her gender. So much of the Civil Rights Movement was built on the backs of the strong black women who sacrificed so much for it, and yet we remember only the powerful black men who led them. It was women (domestic workers, seamstresses, cooks), and relatively apolitical women at that, who bore the brunt of the Montgomery Bus Boycott as its foot soldiers, and it was women in Montgomery, Alabama, who organized and implemented the political action that rocketed civil disobedience into the mainstream public eye (check out the Montgomery Women’s Political Council).

    Rosa Parks was certainly a hero, and she deserves every bit of praise she has received recently. But she was just one of many female leaders and members of the Civil Rights Movement whose heroism and bravery is often neither truly understood nor respected. Given the gender dynamics of our society and many historians, we should not be surprised at the misinformation being spread about Ms. Parks.

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