Monday, February 4th would have been Rosa Parks’ 100th birthday. The story of Mrs. Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus is well known, but thanks to a new book by Brooklyn College professor Jeanne Theoharis, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, much of the coverage of her centennial has focused on her lifelong activism, including her membership in the NAACP and her time at Highlander.
On Sunday, February 3rd, popular MSNBC host Melissa Perry interviewed Dr. Theoharis, and the segment featured a number of photos provided by the Highlander Archives, including a photo of Mrs. Parks in front of the original Highlander Library, with Martin Luther King, Charis Horton, Pete Seeger, and Ralph Abernathy at the 25th Anniversary celebration, and with longtime staff member and Director of Education Septima Clark. You can see the full segment here, with Highlander’s pictures beginning around the 1:50 mark.
That great photo of Mrs. Parks in front of the Highlander Library is also the cover picture for Democracy Now’s interview about her with Dr. Theoharis, available on their website. Beginning around 20:45, Dr. Theoharis discusses Parks’s time with Myles Horton and Septima Clark at Highlander in detail, describing it as an “important, transformative time” for her.
Charles M. Blow’s recent editorial in the New York Times also does a good job of debunking the “the romanticized, children’s-book story” of Rosa Parks as “a meek seamstress with aching feet who just happened into history.” You can read what he has to say about the book here.