Happy birthday, Rosa Parks

“Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.” I am making a short post in honor of Rosa Parks’ birthday, born this day in 1913.

I learned about Rosa Parks in high school (maybe before, but I definitely remember high school) and I learned about her in the conventionally wrong way. I learned that she was tired, and finally having had enough, and decided not to give up her seat on the bus. And (so I learned) by doing this she unknowingly started one of the most well known campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement. This erroneous teaching strips the power away from not only this aspect of the movement, but also from the fact that Mrs. Parks was an advocate for many years before and after the Bus Boycott.

I was SO MANY YEARS OLDER when I started learning the fuller history, and I always try to make sure students know the fuller history as well. This recent opinion piece in the NYT is good, and I love the truth of the title: “The Real Rosa Parks Story is Better Than the Fairy Tale” https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/01/opinion/rosa-parks.html

I also really like this piece from the perspective of her niece, and there are some photos in there I had not seen before: https://www.shondaland.com/inspire/a16022001/rosa-parks-was-my-aunt/

Finally, I always like to make sure my students (here in Tennessee) know about Mrs. Parks time at the Highlander Folk School, and here is a good history of that: https://snccdigital.org/inside-sncc/alliances-relationships/highlander/

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