Rosa Parks is one of the most well-known Americans today, but much of what is known and taught about her is incomplete, distorted, and just plain wrong. Adapted for young people from the NAACP Image Award–winning The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, Jeanne Theoharis and Brandy Colbert shatter the myths that Parks was meek, accidental, tired, or middle class. They reveal a lifelong freedom fighter whose activism began two decades before her historic stand that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott and continued for 40 years after. Readers will understand what it was like to be Parks, from standing up to white supremacist bullies as a young person to meeting her husband, Raymond, who showed her the possibility of collective activism, to her years of frustrated struggle before the boycott, to the decade of suffering that followed for her family after her bus arrest. The book follows Parks to Detroit, after her family was forced to leave Montgomery, Alabama, where she spent the second half of her life and reveals her activism alongside a growing Black Power movement and beyond.
Because Rosa Parks was active for 60 years, in the North as well as the South, her story provides a broader and more accurate view of the Black freedom struggle across the twentieth century. Theoharis and Colbert show young people how the national fable of Parks and the civil rights movement—celebrated in schools during Black History Month—has warped what we know about Parks and stripped away the power and substance of the movement. The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks illustrates how the movement radically sought to expose and eradicate racism in jobs, housing, schools, and public services, as well as police brutality and the over-incarceration of Black people—and how Rosa Parks was a key player throughout.