100 years since the birth of Rosa Parks

“…The driver said that if I refused to leave the seat, he would have to call the police. And I told him, “Just call the police.” He then called the officers of the law. They came and placed me under arrest, violation of the segregation law of the city and state of Alabama in transportation. I didn’t think I was violating any. I felt that I was not being treated right, and that I had a right to retain the seat that I had taken as a passenger on the bus. The time had just come when I had been pushed as far as I could stand to be pushed, I suppose. They placed me under arrest.”

I just got done listening to an archived WPR interview with the author of a newly released book entitled, “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks”. I learned that Rosa Parks didn’t simply get tired that day, as some claim and she wasn’t “an NAACP plant” as the segregationists of the day said. She had her own political awareness and agency. She was raised in a home reverent of the famous Black nationalist and Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey. When she met her husband he was legally representing “The Scottsboro Boys”. Rosa Parks was the secretary for the NAACP in her town for 10 years before she spontaneously decided she had had enough on that bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

Her resistance that day would then spark a 13 month boycott of buses in Montgomery. As Theoharis recounted it on WPR, Rosa Parks’ family would also then suffer death threats, stress, and illness for a decade. Both Rosa Parks and her husband would lose their jobs and never get employment in Montgomery, Alabama again.

The author Jeanne Theoharis also spoke with Amy Goodman. The interview below starts with an audio recording of Rosa Parks describing the moments leading up to her arrest on Dec. 1, 1955.

Link to Democracy Now transcript.


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