Rosa Parks is undeniably one of the most inspirational Americans revolutionaries who fought for the black movement in the 20th century. The documentary follows Rosa Park’s journey in bringing about a revolution. The early 20th century period has been considered a dark period in African American history. Rosa Parks was an activist who fought for equal rights for the black community. She left behind a legacy where the black community now had the power to make a difference. The documentary is a compilation of her works and her early life. It is directed by Johanna Hamilton and Yoruba Riche.
Rosa Parks grew up in an environment where the country was divided between black and white. Racism tortured and disrupted the lives of the people of the colored community. Different schools, different seating arrangements, burning churches, and women raped and abused by white men all contributed to the zeal for a revolution. Rosa was six years old when she realized that she wasn’t free; she was bound by injustice and inequality. After World War I, the black community expected equal rights for serving their country, but instead of flowers, they were served with disrespect and violence. Her grandfather had an unbound hatred for white people, which was subsequently passed down in her family. She wasn’t going to tolerate any bad treatment. She had a younger brother, Sylvester, and one day when they were coming back home, a white boy taunted them. She narrated the incident to her grandma, where she revolted against the threats of the white boy, and her grandmother asked her not to retaliate as they weren’t in power to retaliate against white people. But Rosa wasn’t going to stop; she was powerful enough, and she had the strength to fight the injustice of white supremacy. She was enrolled in a school that she had to walk three miles to attend because bus service wasn’t available for black students. The schools became a place that brought the feeling of separation between the white and the black children. Later, Rosa was admitted to Ms. White’s school, a school that became the base for nurturing revolutionaries. Her mother paid off the fees by cleaning and dusting. Due to her mother’s illness, Rosa had to leave school in her second year.
In 1931, Rosa Parks met Raymond Parks, a member of the NAACP. He worked at a barber shop. Rosa describes Raymond as being light-skinned and someone who is fair-composed. Raymond is a man of politics, working to bring about change for the black community. They later got married in 1932 in Pine Level, in her mother’s home, with a small gathering. Rosa also finished her schooling after her marriage, but she regrets not getting a chance to attend college.
The Scottsboro Boys Case
Eight black teenagers and one boy are on a train in search of work when they are accused of rape by two white women. The case went to trial, and the boys were sentenced to death. It made the community realize how little value black lives had in the eyes of the system. The police chose to intimidate and threaten black people.
Raymond Parks was a member of the NAACP; he was working on getting black people on board for voting and payment of poll taxes. Rosa went to her first NAACP meeting and was made secretary. Mr. Nixon organized the voter’s league for the black community, and Rosa worked beside him. He understood the need for votes in order to fight for the black community’s freedom and classify the community as first-class citizens. In the 1940s, very few people registered, and even fewer were selected. Rosa Parks registered herself to vote in 1943 but was rejected. The second time she was denied without reason, and the third time she made a copy of her answers and was going to use it for filing a suit against the registration board, but she was cleared and received her certificate. She traveled on the Montgomery bus for the first time.
The Women’s Political Council was an organization that covered the cases of dozens of black people who were arrested for not leaving their seats for white people on public transportation. Public transportation was a reflection of white supremacy. The first section of the seats was reserved for the white, the last section for the black, and the middle section was a gray area that fell under the powers of the bus driver and where a colored person would have to give up their seat for a white person.
Later, the NAACP was looking forward to filing a suit against the city bus service over segregation. They needed a plaintiff and a strong case; they needed the ideal plaintiff, a woman, and someone who hadn’t done anything wrong in the past. Some women who had refused to give their bus seats were often manhandled by the police and charged. On December 1, 1955, Rosa, too, took the city bus where she refused to give her seat to a white man and thus waited for her arrest. Later, she was put in Montgomery Jail. She felt alone and trapped, falling into a dark, empty hole. She became the plaintiff in the landmark case. A revolt was launched, and multiple copies of flyers were made and distributed among school students as messengers for the notes. The flyers asked people not to take buses on Monday, and on Monday, December 5, the buses were empty. A meeting was held in the evening at the Holt Street Baptist Church. Leaflets were distributed among thousands of people from all around, and the church was packed. A feeling of enthusiasm ran among the people. Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his speech and ended up becoming a spokesperson. A vote was considered to continue the protest. The community got together and continued the protest; a carpool system was set up for transport. The moment made a significant mark in American History. The white council included judges and lawyers who wanted to defend segregation. Martin Luther King and Nixon’s houses were bombed, the mob was held by the police, and violence prevailed throughout. Fred Gray filed another proactive case in federal court, looking for another legal front. The case was won in the Supreme Court. On December 20, 1956, the protest was called off after it became successful. Black people were now free to ride the buses as they wanted.
“I Was A Victim, Too” – Rosa Parks
Along with the tortures committed by the white people, one of the major issues was cases of sexual violence and rape of Black women without the guilty being held accountable. Rosa Parks shared a personal incident from when she was working as a teenager. She was working as domestic help; she narrates that she saw Mr. Charlie in the kitchen, and he poured himself a drink. He moved nearer to her and put his hand on her waist. Rosa was frightened; she jumped away, and Mr. Charlie offered her money, but she wasn’t willing to sell herself for money. She would rather die than give him consent. She narrates how he could kill her and then rape her, but alive; she would never give him her consent. The story didn’t get the response Rosa had expected, even within the black community.
The Case Of Mrs. Recy Taylor
In 1944 in Abbeville, Alabama, Recy Taylor was on her way back home from church when she was kidnapped and raped by six white men. They blindfolded her and then dumped her back in her town, threatening to kill her if she ever spoke of the incident to anybody. Rosa Parks, along with some other members, decided to investigate and went out for testimony. Many efforts were made, including letters written to the governor and media coverage, but justice wasn’t served, and no action was carried out against these men.
In 1971, the Republic of Afrika took the initiative to defend black people and claim territory in the South. Rosa Parks, at the time, became friends with revolutionary Robert Williams and his wife, Mable Williams. The members of the Republic of Afrika caught the eyes of the law enforcement system and were being targeted now, so the members shot back at them. The members were caught and imprisoned. Imari Obadele was imprisoned even though he wasn’t involved in any violent activities, but he was one that was convicted and sentenced to five years. Rosa Parks, throughout his sentence, would call and check up on him; later, it was confirmed that those phone calls were the only reason he was alive.
In 1977, Rosa Parks started the “Free Joan Little” movement in Detroit. Joan Little was a black woman who was charged with the murder of her jailer, who would regularly rape the women in his jail. Joan Little was the first American woman to fight against her assailant and kill him.
The Ed Nixon And Rosa Parks Partnership A Change In American History
Rosa Parks and ED Nixon worked together for a decade, bringing and fighting for change. In 1945 ED Nixon won branch president. Her work in the 1940s is a reflection of the fact that she didn’t follow the basic rules of politics. In 1954, meetings were organized, and the work of the NAACP was discussed. A youth council for younger members was organized, though the parents were scared of letting their children join the council. In 1955, Rosa Parks and Virginia Durr received a scholarship to attend a two-week workshop on the segregation of classes in the South. This trip to Highlander made her realize a world existed where people were treated equally, and there were people who believed in freedom. Her hopes for civil rights and equality increased.
Rosa Parks was targeted for her political actions. She was discharged from her job by the end of December. Raymond resigned from his position after he felt he was being silenced. Sir Martin Luther King became the hero of the people, which was unfair to Rosa. The documentary reflects how one of the reasons for this could be because she is a woman. She wasn’t offered a job by anyone, not even MLK. She would receive death threats and face a financial burden. In 1957, Rosa Parks moved to Detroit. Detroit had the same problems that Rosa had faced in the South. In 1959, when her financial condition worsened, her annual income was 700$. This attracted the attention of others, and they started raising money for her. She got a job in 1961 at a sewing company, and Raymond found work as a barber.
In the 1960s, Malcolm X came to meet Rosa Parks in Detroit. Malcolm looked at Rosa as a soldier who was ready to fight for the revolution. In 1967, the Detroit Rebellion took place as a result of police brutality. A piece of news about three men getting killed at the Algiers Motel got the attention of the people, and a people’s tribunal was organized. Rosa Parks was asked to serve on the jury. In 1964, John Conyers, a freedom fighter making his move for Congress, was supported by Rosa. In 1965, he was elected to Congress, and he hired Rosa Parks. At the age of 52, she got her first paid political job.
In 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated at the age of 39. It was a moment of grief for the community and Rosa. In 1977, Raymond and Sylvester fell sick. Raymond died at the age of 74 after fighting cancer; Sylvester died three months later, also fighting cancer; her mother also died at the age of 91.
In 1985, the Dearborn Boycott took place. It started off as an incident where a black family was on a picnic at Dearborn Park, and a white family accused them of using the park as non-residents. The white family approached the council for an ordinance restraining non-residents from using a public park. The boycott was won in the Supreme Court and made History. In 1987, She founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for self-development with a longtime friend Elaine Steel.
In 1994, Rosa Parks was attacked by a thief, but she fought back and survived. She was admitted to the hospital for recovery. She wanted to cultivate the vision of young people and make them leaders. In 1990, after his release from the prison, Nelson Mandela met Parks in Detroit. She became a popular figure known for her struggles, courage, and kindness. She died in 2005, but she will always be known as a freedom fighter and an activist who questioned the law. In 2013, a statue was made to honor her at the Capitol. The 1965 Voting Rights Act outlawed the discriminatory acts practiced in the South; as of now, the situation wasn’t the same anymore. It was an irony how the problem Rosa fought for was now considered a problem of the past. The documentary shows the progress made post-act, how people are still fighting, and how Rosa Parks ignited a movement that would be carried out by generations.
“The Rebellious Life Of Mrs. Rosa Parks” is a 2022 documentary film directed by Yoruba Richen and Johanna Hamilton.