The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks

By Hong, Terry | The Christian Science Monitor, January 3, 2013 | Go to article overview

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks


Hong, Terry, The Christian Science Monitor


Already designated definitive political biography on its back cover, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Brooklyn College political science professor Jeanne Theoharis will reside in my personal reading history as the most difficult book Ive ever reviewed. Never before and hopefully never again have I faced such a vast divide between significant content and frustrating execution. As the most exhaustively researched biography thus far on Rosa Parks, Theoharis new title is inarguably an essential addition to any library or classroom, and yet readers will need serious patience to sift through tedious repetition, fragmented chronology, and countless "might have/could have" assumptions to reach the final page.

Fable, myth, caricature are not words historically linked to Rosa Parks, who is publicly remembered as the quiet, tired seamstress whose refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus sparked the US civil rights movement. When she died at 92 in 2005, Parks became the first woman and second African American to have her body lie in state in the US Capitol Rotunda; 40,000 including President and Mrs. George W. Bush bore witness, with additional mourners paying tribute at overflowing memorials held in Montgomery, and Detroit, where Parks spent more than half of her life.

[T]he woman who emerged in the public tribute bore only a fuzzy resemblance to Rosa Louise Parks, Theoharis proves. [R]epeatedly defined by one solitary act on the bus, Theoharis insists Parks was stripped of her lifelong history of activism and anger at American injustice. Instead, the public spectacle provided an opportunity for the nation to lay rest a national heroine and its own history of racism. In other words: 50 years earlier, this tired woman couldnt sit on a bus, but look where shes lying now.

Theoharis was captivated and then horrified by the national spectacle made of her death. She gave a talk about its caricature of [Parks] and, by extension, its misrepresentation of the civil rights movement, which she was asked to turn into an article: It became clear how little we actually knew about Rosa Parks. Even "Rosa Parks: A Life," the biography by lauded historian Douglas Brinkley, "is pocket-sized, un-footnoted, while the autobiography Parks wrote with Jim Haskins, Rosa Parks: My Story, is targeted for young adult readers. [T]he lack of scholarly monograph on Parks," Theoharis observes, "is notable.

More than a personal biography, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks (Theoharis uses the honorific Mrs. to add "a degree of dignity, distance, and formality to mark that she is not fully ours as a nation to appropriate") is a political reclamation of Parks almost-70 years of activism. As the grandchild of slaves, Parks knew [f]rom an early age, ... we were not free. Pushed by her mother, a teacher, towards an education, her discovery of black history in high school was transformative. Family responsibilities kept Parks from finishing 11th grade; she wanted to be nurse or social worker, never a teacher after the humiliation and intimidation she watched her mother endure. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.