Don’t miss La Shawn Barber’s round-up on Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks, 1913-2005. La Shawn links to nearly a hundred posts on Mrs. Parks, a great woman of honor and courage.
A few years ago The Economist carried a book review of Douglas Brinkley’s biography of Mrs. Parks, explaining how her faith inspired her actions,
Mrs Parks was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) who had helped lead black voter-registration drives in Alabama, then a white-supremacist southern state. Her act of defiance on the bus was spontaneous, but, as Douglas Brinkley shows, she had been coached to play a significant part in the civil-rights struggle. Sponsored by a liberal white couple, she had enrolled in a training workshop on “radical desegregation” at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, where former pupils included Martin Luther King. Its founder and head, Myles Horton, had studied under one of America’s most influential Christian thinkers, Reinhold Niebuhr, and was a promoter of the “social gospel”. It was Horton’s wife, Zilphia, who, along with two troubadours, Guy Carawan and Pete Seeger, made the hymn “We Shall Overcome” the anthem of King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Mrs Parks was in her element at Highlander, for religion was, and remains, just as central to her life as it was to Simone Weil’s, though she comes out of a different tradition. She is a steadfast member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, a radical denomination which became known as “the Freedom Church” during the pre-civil war campaign to abolish slavery.
The book, part of the excellent Penguin Lives series, is available at Amazon.