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The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks Hardcover – January 29, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0807050477 ISBN-10: 0807050474 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1 edition (January 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807050474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807050477
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #272,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The national narrative on Parks is that of a reluctant champion of civil rights whose single action was refusing to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. Historian Theoharis offers a complex portrait of a forceful, determined woman who had long been active before the boycott she inspired and who had an even longer career in civil rights afterward. The image of a quiet seamstress who undermined Jim Crow minimizes Parks’ stature as an activist and obscures continued injustice and inequality, Theoharis argues. Drawing on a decade of research, the historian chronicles Parks’ personal journey to resistance, her work in the South challenging segregation and promoting voter registration, and her continued efforts in Detroit to address racial restrictions that had ostensibly been resolved by civil rights legislation. Theoharis details the cost of the bus boycott to Parks and her family, including decades of death threats; her strong admiration for radical black activists; and the controversies that continue to surround the disposition of her archival material as factions fight to claim rights to her iconic image. --Vanessa Bush

Review

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks will undoubtedly be hailed as one of the most important scholarly contributions to civil rights history ever written. … I can’t wait to assign this book in every class I teach.”—Melissa Harris-Perry, host, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry

“Theoharis brings all of her talents as a political scientist and historian of the civil rights movement to bear on this illuminating biography of the great Rosa Parks.”—Henry Louis Gates Jr.

"Charisma is not a word often used to describe Rosa Parks yet we have to recognize her star. The Rosa Parks challenge to the political system was deep and lasting even while she never raised her voice. The first female Speaker of the House of Representatives once said, 'You can get a lot done if you don’t need to take credit for it.' She took a page from the book of Parks. Theoharis’ scholarship brings forth a woman whom many followed without ever realizing they were. She was courageous and strong. She also had a wonderful sense of humor. And an awesome sense of responsibility. This is a much needed book on the woman who is, arguably, the most important person in the last half of the twentieth century. Just as the Lincoln Memorial needs a statue of Frederick Douglass gently bending over with a pen in his hand for Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation, the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. needs a statue of Rosa Parks just one or two steps ahead mouthing the words: 'Come on, Dr. King. We’ve got work to do.'"
—Nikki Giovanni, Poet

“How Theoharis learned the true nature of this woman is a story in itself. Parks always stood in the background, never volunteered information about herself and eschewed fame. There were no letters to consult; even her autobiography exposed little of the woman’s personality. She hid her light under a bushel, and it has taken an astute author to find the real Parks. Even though her refusal to give up her bus seat sparked a revolution, Rosa Parks was no accidental heroine. She was born to it, and Theoharis ably shows us how and why.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Historian Theoharis offers a complex portrait of a forceful, determined woman who had long been active before the boycott she inspired and who had an even longer career in civil rights afterward.”
Booklist

"Theoharis submits a lavishly well-documented study of Parks’s life and career as an activist.”
Publishers Weekly

"Verdict: This meticulously researched book is for everyone; advanced middle school and beyond.”
—Library Journal 

 

More About the Author

Jeanne Theoharis is the author of "The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks"(Beacon Press, 2013) and a professor of political science at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. She received an AB in Afro-American studies from Harvard College and a PhD in American culture from the University of Michigan. She is the author or coauthor of four books and articles on the black freedom struggle and the contemporary politics of race in the United States.

Photographer Copyright Photo Credit: John Ricasoli, 2012.

Customer Reviews

This was a great book in providing insight into the life of Mrs. Parks.
Elmer L. Washington
The book concludes with 57 pages of index and appendices so it is a great research resource but unlike most books of that genre it is innately readable as well.
Rob Slaven
I was very surprised to learn how much Rosa Parks was involved in the planning of the strategy of the bus boycott.
Melanie D. McGrath

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Rob Slaven TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
As is usual, I received this book as part of a GoodReads drawing. Despite the kind consideration of receiving a free book I give my candid assessment below.

The main topical thrust of this book is to set the story of Parks' life in its proper light from her initial involvement in the Civil Rights movement well before the famous Bus Incident until she finally received the Medal of Honor in 1999. Mythology paints Parks as a frail matronly figure who just happens to do the right thing at the right time. The reality that Theoharis paints is much more intriguing as it finds Parks involved in the movement for years before her epic stand and as a key figure in the leadership of the movement.

The reader is also introduced to the darker side of the story including Parks' great personal , financial and psychological sacrifices. Highlighted too is the sexism rife within the organization that led her to be a silent participant in the early years. The Parks story is no fairy tale but instead a complex and interwoven narrative of a woman and a people who had finally just had enough of the injustice that surrounded them.

Beyond the content, the book is lavishly and intricately researched. Much of the text is provided through direct quotes from the participants. This is an exceptionally scholarly work but also one that draws the reader in and builds a deep sympathetic aura. The book concludes with 57 pages of index and appendices so it is a great research resource but unlike most books of that genre it is innately readable as well.

In summary, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks is a elaborately painted picture of the battle against the injustice that sat sullenly over the Jim Crow South during the civil rights era from the viewpoint of one very courageous woman.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By jem on February 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Theoharis set out to demonstrate through exhaustive research that Rosa Parks was far more than a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement and she succeeds admirably. How many people even knew that she was married, or that she was deeply involved in political action to achieve justice for African Americans, serving as secretary of the Montgomery chapter and the state of Alabama NAACP years before the Montgomery boycott? Or that she lived the last half of her life in Detroit working for more than two decades in the office of Congressman Conyers?

The breadth of Rosa Parks' involvement is as amazing as her modest willingness to work behind the scenes for what she considered a group not an individual cause.

Theoharis delivers a new perspective in three particularly interesting aspects of the Civil Rights struggle. The first is overwhelming evidence that Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus was far from the first such act and neither was it a planned provocation by an organized group. It was an unplanned response by a woman who had been humiliated and denied justice because of her race one time too many. It proved significant because Mrs. Parks was well known as a worker for justice among various local organizations and she was the perfect symbol of a beautiful, light-skinned, working class Negro woman who exhibited calm capability respected by both blacks and whites. But this symbolism caused her arrest and conviction, cost her and her husband their employment and exposed them to malicious news articles and violently threatening phone calls that untimately led to their move north -- only to discover that discrimination was not confined to the south.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Mr Mapcase on January 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book set out to debunk the myth that Rosa Parks was a onetime activist. This is a definitive examination of Parks' continued fight for civil rights long before her famous bus ride, and long afterwards, in the face of discrimination, both from whites and black men, in the form of everything from indifference to intimidation to terrorist attacks. Theoharis shows Parks to be shy yet forceful and peaceful yet strong-willed in what she believed in and not afraid to stand for what is right.

Thanks to Beacon Press for the free copy.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Glenn R. Springstead on April 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a political biography of Parks, which disputes the superficial portrayal often given this hero of the Civil Rights movement. Contrary to most media treatment, Rosa Parks was a long-time activist for whom the decision to stay in her seat when asked to move on a Montgomery city bus in December 1955 helped ignite the Civil Rights movement and bring to worldwide attention and acclaim a young minister newly arrived in town, Martin Luther King, Jr. But Parks was no stranger to the struggle against segregation and racism that day. She had been active in Montgomery's NAACP chapter and traveled to an integrated education center in Tennesee earlier in the year for training and discussions in community organizing and peaceful resistance. (This center in Tennessee would come to some noteriety in the South as the supposed "Communist Training Center" attended by King).

The decision to stay seated on the bus that day was also not a risk-free decision, in many ways. Other African Americans had also resisted segregation on the city's buses before Parks, and had been roughly treated in response. African Americans arrested in the South were often subject to beatings, or worse, by police. Segregation resisters were threatened and harrassed, by physically and verbally. Some had their houses bombed. And given the White establishment's control of most businesses, economic pressure could be brought to bear on Civil Rights activists. In fact, Parks was to lose her job as a seamstress because of the bus boycott that followed her confrontation with the bus driver that day.

A year later the courts ruled that segregated buses were unconstitutional and public transportation became integrated.
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