Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

4.4 7
by Douglas Brinkley

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Rosa Parks, an African American seamstress in 1955 Alabama, had no idea she was changing history when she refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus. Now she is immortalized for the defiance that sent her to jail and triggered a bus boycott that catapulted Martin Luther King, Jr. into the national spotlight. Who was she, before and after


Rosa Parks, an African American seamstress in 1955 Alabama, had no idea she was changing history when she refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus. Now she is immortalized for the defiance that sent her to jail and triggered a bus boycott that catapulted Martin Luther King, Jr. into the national spotlight. Who was she, before and after her historic act, and how did it sound the death knell for Jim Crow? Historian Douglas Brinkley, who has been acclaimed for his "vigorous language" and "marvelous portraits" (Stephen Ambrose), brings midcentury America alive in this brilliant examination of a celebrated heroine in the context of her life and tumultuous times, revealing the quiet dignity, hope, courage, and humor that have made this everywoman a living legend.

Editorial Reviews

Atlanta Journal Constitution
Rosa Parks is a superb starting point and a vivid illustration of how a single life can make a difference.
Sacramento Bee
Brinkley writes a fine account of the act of civil disobedience that made Parks famous - her refusal, on Dec. 1, 1955, to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus to a white passenger. But this biography of Parks also bookends that event with an informative history of earlier struggles against segregation and an exploration of Parks' active life after Montgomery. The ending, a glimpse at a wonderfully poignant meeting in 1990 between Parks and South African's Nelson Mandela, is priceless.
Charlotte Observer
Rosa Parksis a vivid illustration of how a single life can make a difference.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the second volume to date of the popular Penguin Lives series to be devoted to a woman (remarkably, only four of the projected 26 subjects will be female), historian Brinkley shreds several key myths surrounding Rosa Parks, the African-American woman who became "the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement" at the age of 42, when she boldly defied Jim Crow laws by refusing to give up her seat to a white rider on a segregated bus in 1955. The act catalyzed the historic 381-day Montgomery bus boycott and stirred the nation's conscience. Yet Parks has a more complex personality than is suggested by her shy, soft-spoken public persona, Brinkley reveals. Despite a humble, fatherless childhood in rural Alabama, she quickly distinguished herself as a tireless worker with the local NAACP, devoting her energies to area youth groups, recording the problems of victims of hate crimes and participating in the organization's major state conferences. Brinkley (The Unfinished Presidency, etc.) pinpoints the origins of Parks's strength and strong social commitment as he details the legalized segregation that tainted every aspect of Southern life. His short, compelling scenes rivet the reader, although some merely expand on previously disclosed events, such as the wave of jealousy and backbiting among Parks's peers, her resurgence in Detroit politics as an aide to Representative John Conyers and the savage beating and robbery that almost took her life in 1994. Like several books in this series, Brinkley's tribute to Parks succeeds not because of an abundance of fresh revelations but because of its wealth of insight and rich portraiture. Agent, Andrew Wylie; 4-city author tour. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
A graceful, informative biography of the mother of the Civil Rights movement, who wouldn't stand for Jim Crow on her bus. Brinkley (The Unfinished Presidency, 1998, etc.) examines the background of the soft-spoken, prayerful woman who seemed unlikely to become a historic icon. "Before King there was Rosa Parks," wrote Nelson Mandela, and Brinkley demonstrates that before Rosa Parks there was a poor, fatherless seamstress from Tuskegee named Rosa McCauley. Her hometown gave her Booker T. Washington's proud self-reliance, while the African Methodist Episcopal Church fueled her courageous expectations for justice and righteousness. Her grandfather moved the family to Montgomery, carrying a shotgun to ward off the threats of Ku Klux Klan violence. Brinkley reports on a litany of lynchings, murders, and other segregation-related arrests that Parks witnessed before and after she married a barber named Raymond Parks. While Raymond was perhaps best known for his reluctance to have his wife turned into a civil-rights symbol (and consequently a target for racists), the author credits him with radicalizing her through his espousal of NAACP politics and attendance at passive-resistance seminars. Brinkley nonetheless makes a good case that Parks did not plan her epochal rebellion during that bus-ride of December 1, 1955, in advance. "It seemed as if Rosa Parks were two people: one, a traditionally submissive Negro laborer; the other, a modern African-American woman bold enough to demand her civil rights." Each moment of Parks's defiance (her refusal to yield, her subsequent arrest, etc.) is described in detail. Brinkley then depicts the astonishing phenomenon by which a one-daybusboycott turned into a pivotal protest of six months, and he presents the input of Reverend King and others. He also summarizes Parks's historic impact and provides 11 pages of bibliography for those who wish to study the controversy in greater detail. No collection of African-American history should miss this bus.

Product Details

Gale Group
Publication date:
Biography Series
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.72(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.18(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"[A] precise history of the woman and the incident that would crown her the mother of the civil rights movement." —USA Today

"A timely update of the historical record, told as an inspiring and unabashedly dramatic story of an American heroine." —The Seattle Times

Meet the Author

Douglas Brinkley is Distinguished Professor of History and director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans. His books include Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War and The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter’s Journey Beyond the White House

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Rosa Parks 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I am a high school sophomore and I chose this book for my research project. One of my reasons I chose this book was because Rosa Parks in my eyes was one of the most amazing people I have ever learned about. This just made me want to learn more and more about her and the way she lived life. She made me look at things differently and from a different perspective. I believe that Rosa Parks did the correct thing, in standing up for all those colored people and not just that but also being able to outlaw segregation on the buses; that to me was just extraordinary. Additionally, To me Rosa Parks is a hero and not only because of what she did during the Montgomery Bus Boycott which lasted around 381 days, but because of her character! I personally think that is what stood out to me the most about her. The way she was and the way she got things done, and because of that not only myself but many other people acknowledge who she was and what she did for our world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a high school sophomore and I chose to read this book for my research project.In my opinion, Rosa Parks by Douglas Brinkley was a phenomenal book. Brinkley did a well job in not boring us with facts about her life, but intriguing us with her courageous life story. It showed innocence of young Rosa, dealing with everyday struggles from her dad leaving home to living in an area where the Ku Klux Klan would murder innocent African Americans. It also described her courage in standing up for what she believed in. Brinkley didn’t only write about the events that happened the day Rosa rejected to give up her seat, but he also wrote about that importance that the event caused in Rosa’s life. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone that is interested in learning about Rosa Parks or the Civil Rights Movement. It impacted my perspective on how I view the world because at the end of the day everyone is equal, and I am glad that Rosa Parks demonstrated that in her act of courageousness. 
JCAM1 More than 1 year ago
I am a high school sophomore and I chose to read this book for my research project. I felt intrigued to read this book because I learned  about Rosa Park in elementary but I wanted to know more about her. The facts it gave about her where so interesting and it made  me want to read more. Although some parts where over detailed and I felt that it should of just gotten to the point. If some of the parts  would of gotten to the point I would of loved it. Her courageous life did not start in her adult years it all started in her baby years. Also  her impact with the civil rights movement made it better.  You have to suffer before you can get to the top. She suffered a lot because of her skin color but that didn't stop her. She was proud of her race and didn't doubt her self.One single life made a big difference and  she is a true hero. This book inspired me to make a difference also, it can be big or small. Anything just to make the world a better place.   I am glad to have read this book and other people should read it also. You learn so many new things about her. And it goes in depth  about segregation and how she over came it. She never gave up, even in her toughest obsticals. For example, people treated her as a full blooded negro but she was half white. Nothing came in her way.  
bobbyrobert More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable and indepth book about her courage in her time element of equality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I choose this book for a history book report. I enjoyed this book because of the facts it contained. The book had facts I've never heard of and so much detail about Rosa Parks life. This book many interesting facts. Parks went through a lot but still stood up for her rights.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Written with an eloquence and grace more often associated with poets than with academic historians, Douglas Brinkley's biography of Rosa Parks (part of the highly-touted Viking 'Penguin Lives' Series) is a moving portrait of an iconic American figure. 'Rosa Parks' relates not only the climactic moment of Ms. Parks' courageous refusal to relinquish her seat on a segregated bus one winter day in Montgomery Alabama, which triggered one of the seminal events of the Civil Rights Movement, it also weaves together a compelling narrative of one woman's path from the struggles of her youth in Tuskegee, Alabama to her post-boycott experiences in Montgomery and Detroit. Brinkley's research for the book is remarkable. He obtained rare interviews with Ms. Parks herself, and presents illuminating new details about her life and the Civil Rights Movement of which she was a part. Brinkley's depiction of Ms. Parks' encounter with Nelson Mandela alone will move even the most jaded of readers. Intended for lay readers while invaluable for scholars, Brinkley's exquisite literary craftsmanship has resulted in a work that will stand as a classic, not only in the fields of African-American and women's history, but among the great works of American history and biography as a whole.