Reviews

Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Theoharis (political science, Brooklyn Coll.) deftly examines the established Parks narrative from myriad pertinent perspectives. She fills gaps in the story of the 1955 Montgomery, AL, bus boycott by illuminating this central character who was no one's pawn, no organization's plant, but a self-aware activist who unknowingly, but gladly, lit the fuse to the keg igniting the civil rights era. Relegated primarily to a symbolic role, Parks nonetheless traveled extensively, spoke eloquently, and worked tirelessly on behalf of civil rights organizations. However, her unwillingness to self-identify as a noteworthy individual had the unfortunate consequence that neither of the groups in whose fundraising she was so intimately involved (the NAACP and the Montgomery Improvement Association) felt emboldened to take much responsibility for the personal and economic fallout Parks and her family suffered as a result of her actions. They moved to Detroit in 1957, where she found ample opportunity to continue her work. Theoharis recounts the fascinating new allies Parks encountered as the years progressed and her politics stayed true. VERDICT This meticulously researched book is for everyone; advanced middle school and beyond.-Jewell Anderson, Armstrong Atlantic Univ. Lib., Savannah, GA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

It's time for a big new biography of Rosa Parks, whose refusal to cede a bus seat helped launched the Civil Rights Movement. From the author of four books on civil rights issues. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
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In her introduction to this biography, Brooklyn College political scientist Theoharis (coauthor of Freedom North: Black Freedom Struggles Outside of the South) notes the common perception of Rosa Parks (1913-2005): "hidden in plain sight, celebrated and paradoxically relegated to be a hero for children." Into that gap, Theoharis submits a lavishly well-documented study of Parks's life and career as an activist. In tracing her work with the Montgomery NAACP and other groups from the 1930s onwards, and then following her move from Alabama after the 1956 bus boycott to Detroit, Theoharis maps a lifetime devoted to civil rights, thereby destabilizing our notions of Parks as a "tired seamstress" who simply kept her seat on a bus one day in 1955. The "iconography of Parks," as Theoharis shows, can be used as an entry point for understanding the broader trends in the historiography of the civil rights movement. She notes how the "national fable" of Parks offers "its untarnished happy ending and its ability to reflect the best possibilities of the United States," thus downplaying more subversive philosophies like the Black Power movement, which Parks also championed. Theoharis calls for a reconsideration of Parks's legacy and of the movement she, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and others are responsible for initiating. 16 b&w illus. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.