37 pages • 1 hour readDanielle L. McGuire
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Famed civil rights activist Rosa Parks is one of the book’s central figures. McGuire closely examines her actions in the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott. Despite Parks’ fame, however, most historical accounts of the civil rights movement overlook Parks’s engagement with activism throughout her life. Typically, Parks is remembered as a polite and kind middle-class woman who refused to give up her bus seat due to her physical fatigue. As McGuire shows, such an image of Parks is a myth. In reality, Parks is motivated by her deep anger at the ongoing injustices of Jim Crow. By focusing on the entirety of Parks’s life, McGuire shows how Parks’ actions in the Montgomery bus boycott stem from a long engagement with activism that is often radical.
Parks is born in Alabama to working-class parents in 1912, and she spends several years of her childhood living with her father’s family in Abbeville, Alabama. As a child, Parks was close with her grandfather, Sylvester Edwards, who instilled in Parks a passion for combatting racism by teaching her about black activists such as Marcus Garvey. Parks marries the politically oriented Raymond Parks, and together they engage in activist campaigns. In 1943, Parks joins the NAACP, and she begins traveling throughout Alabama to “document acts of brutality” (13).