Is Everybody Picking on Rosa Parks?

By Mary Wiltenburg writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, December 15, 2003 | Go to article overview

Is Everybody Picking on Rosa Parks?


Mary Wiltenburg writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


If she was tired then, she must surely be tired now. Forty-eight years ago this month, Alabama seamstress Rosa Parks took a seat in history, touching off a legal battle - and a 381-day bus boycott - that proved pivotal to the American civil rights movement.

Nearly a half century later, Ms. Parks is in court again - not to fight for her rights, but to defend her name.

Parks is suing rap duo OutKast for naming a song after her on its 1998 album "Aquemini." Last week, the US Supreme Court cleared the way for her to proceed with the lawsuit, which claims the song uses her name to sell a product she does not endorse.

This is not the first time the civil rights pioneer has taken a stand against popular culture's appropriation of her legacy. Last year, Parks boycotted the NAACP Image Awards, at which a movie about her life was celebrated, to protest another nominated film, "Barbershop," in which a character makes what Parks called "hurtful jokes" about her status as a black icon.

The ensuing flap has left some Americans raised on tales of Parks's heroism wondering: Why is this venerable icon suddenly under siege?

"Rosa Parks' legacy is in danger," says Doreen Loury, a professor of African-American studies at Arcadia University in Philadelphia. "Not because of its mention in popular movies and song, but because so few Americans who can recognize the great lady's face on a poster, have any idea what legal, political, and personal struggles put her there."

Partly, historians say, Parks's discomfort with these portrayals resembles that of other unintentional celebrities. But Parks's struggles also bring up race issues that are anything but black and white. Her renown spans the country. Her story - or a version of it, anyway - will be taught in almost every school in America. She is commonly promoted, often by white teachers, as a role model for black students.

It stands to reason, says Thomas Ross, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who specializes in race issues, that African-American artists who grew up on her story would need to grapple with it - even to an extent that might appear a kind of cultural blasphemy.

Dr. Loury believes that black Americans should be suspicious of figures white America has embraced as "black icons. …

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

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.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

Is Everybody Picking on 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?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access 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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.