Opinion: It’s time to free Rosa Parks from the bus
December 1st, 2012
05:00 AM ET

Opinion: It’s time to free Rosa Parks from the bus

Editor's note: Danielle McGuire is the author of "At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance-a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power." She is an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Wayne State University, and a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. She lives with her husband and two children in metro Detroit.

By Danielle McGuire, Special to CNN

(CNN) - In 2011, Rosa Parks was in the news, six years after her death. An excerpt from a breathtaking essay she wrote in the 1950s about a “near rape” by a white man in Alabama was released to the public.  The handwritten narrative detailed Parks' steely resistance to a white man, “Mr. Charlie," who attempted to assault her in 1931 while she was working as a domestic for a white family.

It was late evening when “Mr. Charlie” pushed his way into the house and tried to have sex with her.  Having grown up in the segregated South, she knew all too well the special vulnerabilities black women faced. She recalled, for example, how her great-grandmother, a slave, had been “mistreated and abused” by her white master.

Despite her fear, she refused to let the same thing happen to her. “I knew that no matter what happened,” she wrote, “I would never yield to this white man’s bestiality.” "I was ready to die,” she said, “but give my consent, never.  Never, never." Parks was absolutely defiant: “If he wanted to kill me and rape a dead body,” she said, “he was welcome, but he would have to kill me first.”

Civil Rights icon dies at 92

Does that sound like the Rosa Parks we know?

Some of the guardians of Parks’ legacy have said it is not, and insist the essay was fiction. But by dismissing the writings as fiction, it retains the popular image of Rosa Parks as a simple seamstress whose singular and spontaneous act launched the civil rights movement that brought down the walls of segregation.

This popular presentation of Parks as a quiet but courageous woman, whose humble righteousness shamed America into doing what was right has become a mythic fable present in nearly every high school history textbook, museum exhibit, and memorial.

December 1, 1955: Rosa Parks arrested

She has been imprisoned by this tale, frozen in time as a silent and saintly icon whose only real action was to stay seated so that, in the words of her many eulogists, “we could all stand up.”

This overly simplistic story makes it impossible to imagine her essay about Mr. Charlie as anything but fiction.

But what if we knew more about the real Rosa Parks—a militant race woman and sharp detective whose career as a human rights activist spanned seven decades?

It’s time to free Rosa Parks from the bus.

Rosa Parks had a history of being defiant, and her fierce response to Mr. Charlie in the essay echoes her lifelong history of resistance to white supremacy. She learned about racial pride and self-defense at her grandfather’s knee in the 1910s.

Sylvester Edwards was a fan of the Jamaican-born black nationalist, Marcus Garvey, and delighted young Rosa with stories of Garvey’s greatness.  She was especially proud of her grandfather’s willingness to defend himself and his family from the daily terror of the Ku Klux Klan in Pine Level, Alabama.

“Whatever happened,” she said, “I wanted to see it … I wanted to see him shoot that gun. I wasn’t going to be caught asleep.” This spirit of defense and defiance, she said later, “had been passed down almost in our genes' that a proud African-American can not accept "bad treatment from anybody.”

In the 1930s, Rosa Parks joined her husband Raymond and others in secret meetings to defend the Scottsboro boys—nine young African-American men accused of raping two white women in Alabama in 1931. In the 1940s, they hosted Voter League meetings, where they encouraged neighbors to register even though it was a dangerous task. In 1943, she joined the Montgomery NAACP and was elected branch secretary. The job required Parks to investigate and document acts of racist and sexist brutality.

It was in this context, in 1944, that Rosa Parks investigated the brutal gang-rape of Recy Taylor, a black woman from Abbeville, Alabama.

Parks took Taylor’s testimony back to Montgomery, where she and other activists organized the “Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor.” They launched what the Chicago Defender called the “strongest campaign for equal justice to be seen in a decade.” In 1948, she gave a fiery speech at the state NAACP convention criticizing President Harry Truman’s civil rights initiatives. “No one should feel proud,” she said, “when Negroes every day are being molested.”

Foot fatigue played no role when she refused to relinquish her seat on December 1, 1955. “There had to be a stopping place,” she said, “and this seemed to be the place for me to stop being pushed around. I had decided that I would have to know once and for all what rights I had as a human being and a citizen, even in Montgomery, Alabama.”

Constant death threats forced her to leave Alabama in 1957. When she arrived in Detroit she continued working as an activist. Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, she worked to secure “Black Power,” fought for open housing and against police brutality, railed against the war in Vietnam, and campaigned for George McGovern. She was an ardent fan of Malcolm X and Robert F. Williams, a militant NAACP leader from North Carolina who advocated “armed self-reliance.” She admired Williams so much that she delivered the eulogy at his funeral in 1996.

Given Parks’ history, her defiance of “Mr. Charlie” in 1931 makes perfect sense and fits within a larger context of resistance to the inhumanity of racism and sexism. Instead of a tired seamstress who tiptoed into history, Rosa Parks was a woman who marched proudly with strength, conviction, and purpose.

It is this Rosa Parks that we ought to celebrate and honor. Her history as an active citizen engaged in the most pressing issues of her time - especially racial and sexual violence –can teach us how to do the same in ours.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Danielle McGuire.

soundoff (651 Responses)
  1. Best Ecig

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    August 9, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |

    hahah i love conflict this is very amusing

    March 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Crazy Person

    Rosa Parks was

    January 31, 2013 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve crawford (@crawfordpepper)

      Rosa Parks was invited to speak at the Rochester, MN annual NAACP Banquet. She arrived in Rochester with her traveling companion. She refuse to meet with the youngsters at a luncheon prior to the banquet. She refuse to leave her hotel room until she figured it was time for her to read her speech, which she read as if she saw it for the first time, with no voice reflections in the reading. She and her traveling companion requested special meals. After her speech she left the banquet prior to its ending, and not allowing people to meet and talk to her. Now that is the Rosa Parks that I met, cold and aloof. To Danielle McGuire that is the Rosa Parks that the people of Rochester, MN met.

      June 14, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kathryn in Oregon

    I knew this about Rosa Parks and it is pleasing to see it retold !

    January 12, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wes McKay

      That was a good story and I have no doubt some of it is true.

      But back several years ago, I ran across a story stating that the real Rosa Parks was a sixteen year old pregnant run away with a history of trouble. When the story of a black girl being arrested for defying the rules on a bus, started to get national attention ... they covered up the real Rosa Parks and replaced her with a 20 something women with a clean record and she is the one shown in the pictures and now has a statue in the white house of obama.

      I didn't think it was very important at the time, and it was well before I got interested in the computer, so to my dismay I don't have a copy of the article ... but, my memory is still good.

      What do you think ?

      February 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Meko

    In the words of Rodney King can we please all get along!!! I'm not trying to be funny, but we can' t get along in a dam chat session or blog or forum. Really be human be nice and be respectful do a random act of kindness. Lets stop being so hateful. These are people's own thoughts and opinions.

    January 11, 2013 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ninon Beall

    Slavery, bigotry and racial brutality did not begin or end in the southern United States. They are ongoing and evolving human traits shared by all races and are as old as cognition itself.

    January 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mspatriotbx

    So you had a bad day or many. Me too. This country can not keep laying down to every person who is inconvienced. Big deal. Do what you are supposed to do and stop complaining. MOVE elsewhere if you don't like it!

    December 30, 2012 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Meko

      All I can say is really!

      January 11, 2013 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. booooowhooooo

    yawn....but there is a bridge in MGM named after her...

    December 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. my opinion

    I know of three African- Americans. They are both white, came over IN THIER OWN LIFETIME from africa, and just recently got thier citizenship in America. I am sorry (well not really) but every other self proclaimed African American is black Americans (or white Americans, or just American which ever the case may be), unless of course they came over THIS LIFETIME from Africa. Then they are African- Americans

    December 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrea Lee Jackson

      Really! Does that apply to all the white folks who like to shout from the roof that they are German-American, Irish-American etc. I see a pattern here. It is always fine until a black person does it.

      January 3, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • My opinion

        Yes it would include those people you spoke of...excuse me for not making that clear...however in my locality I have never heard those...around here it is just african American....my point being unless you came over in this lifetime...you are really just american (unless you have duel citizenship of course)...also to make myself clear if I were to meet and African American who was black (and actually came from africa) then I would call them African Americans. (btw the Irish Americans you speak of may actually be Irish citizens...as long as original person who came from Ireland and then claimed citizenship for thier children born here and then those children claimed citizenship for thier offspring then a third fourth or even fifth generation descendent from Ireland can be an Irish citizen without ever setting foot in Ireland)...Ireland is one of the few countries that grant dual citizenship like that)

        January 5, 2013 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dean O

      I intend in no way to detract from the heroic and stoic stance of Rosa Parks. But @my opinion; correct -: As it so happens, I too am a white African. I am caucasian. So, my great grandparents and those before them too; were born, raised here. We are multilingual; to varying degrees, and admire fellow Black and Arab Africans for how they have largely learnt one another's cultures (values and way-of-life) -: and in addition; we've learned to display deep respect one for another.. DON't get me wrong, not like we sit around holding hands singing 'khumbaya' ...
      But we endeavour to 'close the gap' - by virtue of a mutual respect of our shared humanity and geographical setting – less set on self – and more on "strength to the people by us being as human to one another as possible", and anyway: IN South Africa we refer to this as but one element of 'Ubuntu'.

      January 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • sandra980

      You cant be serious. Every Black person or person of color has orgins that began in arfica and that fact alone makes them african american, because i was born in america does not change the fact that im of african decent. so is a 4th or 5th generation chinese no longer a chinese because they were born in america? dont try to limit my culture to just a color.

      April 12, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rob Tauntu

    Why are so many acting all haughty over something funny. It was not created to be mean or hateful but to be fun. People are becoming so holier than thou – but I'll bet if I hung around you, I would find all the skeletons in your closet, we all have them and do you know why, because we are human! so get over yourselves.

    December 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. AmericanCherokeeFirst

    did it ever occur to people that not all africans that left africa did so as a slave. africans most certainly could build boats and sail out of that continent as freepeople. free black christians did this to escape the black muslims (persians and moorish empires) that we selling their own people in droves to the british! heck all throughout the 1600-1700s black african slavers called the barbary pirates kidnapped and raped over 1,250,000 innocent irish men women and children and sold them to the us virgin islands to pick sugar cane,. they were even owned by BLACK slave owners. yes black folks.....your ancestors were also slavers. race based slavery is only 400 yrs old as where slavery itself is thousands of years old.

    December 25, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. AmericanCherokeeFirst

    Rosa Parks was not simply african american. she was an american woman of a multiracial background. she was not only african, but she was also cherokee and european. you see what the black community NEEEEEEEEDS to stop RIIIIIGGGHHHHHTTTTT now is the use of the one drop rule. racist slave owners coined the term one drop rule to oppress black people, so WHY do you pick up their torch and run with it? ARE YOU THAT STUPID???!! our president is multiracial. KEY WORD BEING MULTI!

    December 25, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Sylveebee

      'You people ' REALLY?????? That is a broad and most unintelligent statement.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Admire Kadenge

    Africans and African -Americans should not accept the "Black" racial clacification, when used, it is a curse.

    December 9, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • AmericanCherokeeFirst


      December 25, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
    • AmericanCherokeeFirst

      did it ever occur to people that not all africans that left africa did so as a slave. africans most certainly could build boats and sail out of that continent as freepeople. free black christians did this to escape the black muslims (persians and moorish empires) that we selling their own people in droves to the british! heck all throughout the 1600-1700s black african slavers called the barbary pirates kidnapped and raped over 1,250,000 innocent irish men women and children and sold them to the us virgin islands to pick sugar cane,. they were even owned by BLACK slave owners. yes black folks.....your ancestors were also slavers. race based slavery is only 400 yrs old as where slavery itself is thousands of years old.

      December 25, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • AmericanCherokeeFirst

      well if your going to call me red or white...im calling you black. id rather call you human...but humans arent capable of this type of rational behavior.

      December 25, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. waitasec

    i never had the opinion that Rosa Parks was a quiet but courageous woman...what she did defied the word quiet...
    her actions were taken loudly and clearly.

    December 9, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa Sullivan

      Rosa Parks did not act alone. She was a brave woman, but she was one of many. She wasn't some lone woman who on her own decided to defy the south. She was part of an organization. It was staged, not random. People need to know this. Yes, I think this defiant Rosa Parks who defied a rape was exactly the person we have known. She was non-violent, and she put herself at great risk, but she did not act independently of a resistance.

      December 9, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
      • KnowbodyXXL

        Nobody ever suggested that Parks acted alone.

        December 10, 2012 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
    • schellie ware

      My understanding of that "bus" incident was that she was chosen as a soldier, and stong activist to intentionally refuse to give up her seat because a day or two prior to that it was reported that the :real" woman, a tired, weary little brown domestic worker just refused- alone and on her own, and was arrested. At whichtime the naacp seized the opp to use her/parks an ideal "black" woman type that would garner more sympathy from main stream than the lady to whom it really belonged, andwere it wasn't an staged event as was w/ parks who had people ready to support her to the bitter en.Do some research and digging, I forgot my source, too much in the ole brain

      December 9, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • Geder

        Dear People,

        Please keep in mind – or put in mind – that there were many, many Rosa Parks' throughout the time of her event.
        Mrs. Parks was the one that got the modern day Civil Rights movement rolling. That's the take away.

        There were tons of indignities suffered by folks the day before, the very day, and the day after!
        Those indignities didn't magically stop the day Rosa Parks got arrested, fingerprinted, and photographed!

        Ah, but the WORLD finally got a glimpse of how people were being treated on something as benign as a PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION BUS!

        No one should deny Rosa Parks' moment in history.

        December 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Evolutionisforunaccountability

    Nobody can agree with anybody for any reason someone always has to disagree and there is no reasoning with him/her

    December 9, 2012 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
  16. Geder

    It's NOT time to free Rosa Parks from the bus. It's time to succinctly tell that story to the new children of the Civil Rights Movement. It is also time to expand the official biography and legacy of Rosa Parks to include other facets of her remarkable life.

    Rosa Parks' story should be the beginning point for us to tell our remembrances of personal indignities, sufferings, and brutalities. Our descendants need to know that Rosa Parks was real because similar things happened to our families. Far too many of us have 'bus stories', 'rape stories', 'lynch stories', etc. We mustn't put aside any of these heart wrenching memoirs. Folks must know what happened in order to understand what direction to take to repair, heal, and grow.

    December 7, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Rhino

      your above post was succinct and amazingly accurate. Thanks!!! Rosa Parks does NOT have to be an oblivious lone wolf in order to be a national hero. Yes, she challenged the law on purpose. A true "American" if I ever should know one.

      December 29, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
  17. Jim

    I"m glad for the incredibly rare hint that she was NOT on that bus by accident, simply too tired to sit where she was told. She went on that bus and sat where she did as part of an organized effort. She got confronted and arrested on purpose - to prove a point.

    December 7, 2012 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
  18. Joseph

    Nobody cares about the Rosa Parks we didn't know? She stood up to oppression and years of abuse. She told the white devil, "I'm not gonna sit at the back of the bus!" which is really stupid, "you have to sit at the back because of your skin color? This story is pointless and stupid and probably has a personal agenda behind it. Sorry editor, your not gonna discredit anyone with this stupid story. Try harder.

    December 7, 2012 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
    • got it

      "This comment is pointless and stupid and probably has a personal agenda behind it. Sorry Joseph, your not gonna discredit anyone with this stupid comment."

      There, I fixed that for you.

      December 7, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
    • thundercat 22

      @Joseph then why read the story, like I said before a white person won't say anything to a black person but hide behind a computer in which I call a internet coward. BE A MAN FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  19. mike hunt

    What about all the other African Americans who were arrested for violating this law. We glorify and honor Parks, but only because the whole act was a publicity ploy by the NAACP. It was not some brave act by a lowely woman. They deserve credit for what the stunt achieved, but we shouldnt be honoring Parks as some hero who stood up to segragation and an unjust law when so many others stood up and went to jail or were beaten who violated the law out of their own principles, and not as some NAACP stunt.

    December 6, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      I read that Rosa Parks was defiantly parking in handicapped spaces at the supermarket before she died even though she wasn't handicapped. First it was white folk's seats, then handicapped spaces, what next?

      December 6, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve Crawford

      Mike I agree with you. There was a women in Texas that refuse to move on a bus, way before Parks. Park's incident just came at a opportunity time for the NAACP To crate a march. She wasn't an outgoing or congenial women. She was invited to speak a NAACP banquet, she refuse to meet with some children prior to the banquet and only came down minutes before she was schedule to speak. It seem that she wasn't familiar with what was written on the paper before her. After her lousy speech she left with a women who had accompany her, and was never seen again.

      December 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Jorge

    Bigotry and depravity are not outstanding traits of any one particular ethnic or racial background, but of those craven, immoral opportunists that exist in all societies, who hide behind ignorance and irrelevant social mores to perpetrate their travesties, crimes and atrocities unhindered. They exist anywhere societies choose to stagnate and live by the perpetuated propaganda of supersticion, fallacy and vested interest, instead of educating themselves. Rosa Parks chose to never trust white people because that was the lesson learned in her understandably limited, painful experience, but if she had travelled and shared the experiences of the Jewish concentration camp survivor, the African refugee rape victim and the Bosnian genocide widow she would understand that struggles like her's were endemic, and the need to fight injustice, universal.

    December 4, 2012 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Father of 2 Girls & 2 Boys

      I, too, wish Ms. Parks would have shared more of her stories with us. But I cannot blame her for being wary of others with everything that happened to this poor woman.

      Ms. Parks suffered doubly – not just as an African American but also as a woman. Most black men (unless they were in prison) didn't have to worry on a daily basis about being raped like black women did.

      With that being said, everything you mentioned can also apply to equal gender rights – not just racial equality.

      Sadly, misogyny is everywhere in our society. From the conservative left (many Christian/Catholic churches tell women to submit to their husbands as their leader, they don't allow female priests or pastors, they sluht shame and humiliate women who want access to birth control or are pro-choice or who even believe in equal gender rights and call them FEMINAZIS) to the liberal left (video games like Grand Theft Auto where running over women scores you more points, misogynistic tv shows like Two & a Half Men or The Sopranos, sluht shaming any woman they can even a little goody-two-shoes like singer Taylor Swift because she's young and dates, objectifying women, etc. etc.).

      In other words, women are attacked from all sides of society.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
      • Pepe Santos

        The "Christain/Catholic" churches (Catholics are Christians BTW) are known for repeating what is in The Bible – where it says "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." (Ephesians 5:22-24)

        What should we do about this? Should we just decide that this is wrong in our modern and vastly improved culture? Perhaps we understand things that the God does not?

        December 6, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
      • kcv

        @Pepe Santos....you really don't think God "wrote" the bible do you? You do know the bible was written by MAN, not GOD...right? You must, otherwise your comments make no sense. (Yes, I know the bible is supposed to be ordained and blessed by God, but again something that MAN stated.) I trust in God, not some random person who decided to tell me HIS interpretation of God.

        December 22, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  21. laststonecarver

    I have a dream, that pink is White, and brown is Black.
    Even in the black and white photo, Rosa is nearer to White than Black, and Danielle McGuire is pink.


    December 4, 2012 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Meathead (of the Word)

      And your statement is the closest thing to anything ASININE AND IGNORANT I've heard all day.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • laststonecarver

        When i was 25 years old, i had a friend, who would be considered as Black.
        He had cancer and was dieing, most likely caused by chain smoking.
        The medical treatment he was receiving was radiation therapy. This treatment involved the cobalt buring of cancerous tissue. He showed me the patches on his chest, which had been treated, and related that it was dead tissue, that the tissue was the only Black skin that he actually had. Otherwise his skin was brown.
        This is one reasoning why i am not fooled that Brown is Black.
        People of color are each and every person.

        December 6, 2012 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
    • kcv

      Her skin is closer to white due to the unspoken MILLIONS of rapes by white men on black women...read your history. I know my skin is light because one of my ancestors was probably raped by our "founding FATHERS".

      December 22, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  22. ffacts

    in 1994 a black home-invading criminal attacked Rosa Parks in her home, assaulted her and stole $53 dollars. This event frightened Parks so much, she moved to a secure high rise apartment for the rest of her life. She wanted to avoid the criminal elements on the streets of detroit.

    in 2004 Parks was facing eviction from nonpayment of rent. a group of white building owners/managers forgave her debt and allowed her to live in the apartment for the remainder of her life rentfree.

    No civil rights group helped her. These are some of the most important facts about her life, yet are omitted by this cowardly author. CNN does not want the public to know about these things, and will eventually remove this post.

    How about an article about the kindness of the white businessmen who allowed her to live rent free, while wealthy civil rights groups ignored her?

    CNN does not want these facts to be known! Those who call me names only prove my facts!

    December 3, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • crazypete

      Um.... how does calling you a name prove your facts? I'm not following your logic...

      December 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • crazypete

      DAVID! OK, so did I prove all of your facts by calling you david, or only one? Here's a bonus: Susan!

      December 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • khalid

      I agree,,,that the groups ignored her..all white is not bad..or wrong...God bless America....

      December 4, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
    • 1111CB

      May we get beyond race someday and see people as individuals. Thank you for sharing about facts I did not know. There are some beautiful people left in this world. As long as they exist, we have hope as the human race.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  23. HArold

    "They're incapable of adapting to civilized society" wrong incapable to adapting to a civilization of brutal domination. Seems as if someome has an inferiority complex.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |

    The one thing I have to say is, some people are content in the total confusion of a good point morally,

    December 3, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  25. Tfal

    Because no one cared! Not then not now.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Tyler T

      Yes that is interesting. Blacks have more to fear from their own than they ever did from opponents to the civil rights movement. Rosa Parks may have been right about a lot of things. But the attack on her seems strangely ironic. I only remember Thomas Sowell writing about it shortly after it happened. She was, and is, just a symbol for a movement. Her proponents do not care about the reality.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • crazypete

      I care! ...wait, no, actually on second thought I really don't. Wonder why I bothered to comment...

      December 3, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  26. writingmomma

    To those at CNN that allow this hate to continue to be spewed, yet delete rebuttals of these evil comments are just as corrupt as those racist that allow such filth. Shame on CNN for not removing the racist rhetoric from your website! You deserve to be in the HALL OF SHAME! You continue to promote this mess by allowing it to continue.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  27. Kelvin Brown

    You need to walk in the shoes of a Black man for just one day and you will change your tune very quickly. I feel sorry for your ignorance because it runs so deep. This article has nothing to do with dwelling on the past but to expound on how activities of Rosa Parks which, if your read the article, was far more diverse than simply refusing to surrender her seat.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  28. Darren

    So, what business does a white woman have, writing anything about Rosa Parks, or any Black in America subject. Whites are the cause of Black suppression, and certainly cannot comprehend black strife.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • T.

      It seems we've come full circle. Of course! How could a white woman know anything about racism? But oh, don't let her try. Instead, just keep people in the racist role you want to put them in. I guess compassion or the desire to make a difference in people's views are simply not enough. Please, if you have a better understanding, by all means, share it. Write something worthwhile But if all you can say is that someone should not write about something because of the color of her skin, then I'd say you just gave her a pretty good lesson in racism.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Larry G

      "Whites are the cause of Black suppression"

      Not all white people are the cause of Black suppression, and let not forget that some black people help cause black suppression running around like gang bangers.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  29. fyre

    I guess Oskar Schindler is a war criminal then, eh? Oh, not to mention those colonial upstarts that started the US Revolutionary War? I'm hoping your comment was just trolling.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  30. CINCEO1

    And only an ignorant and naive fool would think to make such a blasphemous comment. Its always the people that benefited from bigotry and racism that support it. Sorry to burst your little fantasy bubble, but just because something is "law" doesnt make it right.

    December 3, 2012 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  31. adunning10

    Yeah, we really should stop talking good about those dang founding fathers too huh? And the people who were a part of the Boston Tea Party. That was a FELONY. Our country was based on people who protested unjust laws by breaking them on purpose. Rosa Parks represents what is great about this country.

    December 3, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  32. MelC

    Sorry, but I think that's a foolish thing to say. Perhaps you need to consider what "the law" is that's being broken before making such a statement. Just because something is "law" doesn't make it fair or just. There are plenty of old laws still on the books that are laughable, and I'm sure most, if not all, of us break those laws on a regular basis.

    December 3, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  33. mike

    The writer's aim is off. The Rosa Parks who said no to being raped is the same Rosa Parks we've always known. A woman of indominable courage. She doesn't need to be let off the bus. She is the same woman on and off the bus.

    December 3, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • rafael

      Her aim is at those who don't accept the more complex narrative than the singular act on the bus. Not sure what you are arguing about.

      December 3, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  34. rider

    Thanks Rosa for my Freedom.. You are a great woman and your legacy will live on

    December 3, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  35. jarand140

    To portray Mrs. Parks as an evil spirit after she has passed seems so degrading. Those that really knows her spoke well of Mrs, Parks and that is how she shall be remembered.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
    • mph66

      Who is portraying Rosa Parks as an "evil spirit"? Please go back and re-read the article, or check your reading comprehension skills. The author contends that we don't honor the whole picture of Rosa Parks, but just one piece of her story. The author gives us a complete picture of her activism. Parks was an alert, active, engaged citizen who stood for equal rights of all Americans.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
      • George, Dallas, TX

        You have to wonder at what level some of these people read/comprehend, don't you? Clearly, most need more schooling.

        December 3, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
      • HArold

        No there comprehension skills are fine I would rather they be ignorant though

        December 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      Evil spirit? This is one of the most courageous women of the 20th century. What she did changed the world. Like so many others in history, the moment itself might have meant only a mere passing moment, a time when she was fed up with something and decided not to do something. Ten minutes earlier, ten minutes later, her reaction might have been totally different. But fate and destiny chose that moment for her to become known to the world for her bravery, not just be brave in her own personal world any longer. She was the catalyst, the hingepoint upon which this world pivoted. How did she do it? She said no. That one word, a simple 'no,' was not simple in any sense, yet she spoke it and change happened.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  36. LA

    I'm glad for any myths to be busted, but describing anyone as a "simple seamstress" rubs me the wrong way. So what if she had been "just" a seamstress? That wouldn't have diminished her.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Retired Army Officer

      Yes.......you missed the point.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
  37. wb

    It's easy to read between the lines here. Rosa Parks hated white people. That doesn't mean she didn't have a right to fight off a rapist, or not give up her seat on a bus. Be she sounds like a bitter racist who probably despised any white person who tried to do anything nice for her, too. I see nothing but your ordinary everyday racist here masquerading as a saintly angel from heaven.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
    • tRUEaMERICAN77

      don't know what article you just read , but it sure wasn't this one

      December 3, 2012 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
    • studyhistorymuch


      December 3, 2012 at 3:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Retired Army Officer

      OK......I get it.

      Any Black person who is an activist for (racial) justice is a racist.

      Thanks for clearing that up for everyone here ;-) .

      December 3, 2012 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
      • thundercat 22

        @ Retired Army Officer so we just suppose to let white people keep running over black people?

        December 7, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • RonFromNM

        Umm, thundercat, that was sarcasm!

        December 9, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shug

      So if that were true, and I strongly disagree that it was, did she not have a right to be? She as well as all other blacks were surrounded by hate driven by ignorance.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:44 am | Report abuse |
      • taylorchasewhite

        No, you guys don't get it. 'Being a racist' whether she was or not, is never a justifiable characteristic. You can hate all the people that have harmed you and put you down, and maybe 95% percent of them were a certain race. What isn't right is to say, oh well this person is Purple. I hate all purple people, even though this one hasn't done anything to me.

        Yes, you can generalize, for instance, I don't walk into the ghetto, predominately filled by black people at night out of fear of being harmed, but that doesn't mean every black person I meet I hate.

        You can't ever justify being a closed minded racist towards ALL people of one color, regardless of what has happened to you.

        December 3, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
      • Cappy

        There is a tremendous amount of logic and compassion in your post. I, for one, appreciate it.

        December 3, 2012 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      Were you alive in the south during that time? Do you know what life was like then? The segregation that still existed? The unfairness?

      December 3, 2012 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
      • taylorchasewhite

        Nice name. Do you know who fought to free the slaves? Oh that's right the GOP...

        December 3, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Vanessa

      Are you serious? Did you read the same article I did?

      December 3, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Apparently, you have never experience any kind of racial profiling or prejudice in your life to say something like that. I'm glad Rosa Parks gave all her energy to fight for racial equality.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • HArold

      So people hated Germany during WWII, Look at what they were doing!! You had to have been there!

      December 3, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Rick

    Great woman!

    December 3, 2012 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
  39. bahamamommyinc

    A fascinating read! Thank you for introducing me to the side of Rosa Parks that I never knew. I'll respect her memory more than ever now.

    December 2, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Klaark

    "This overly simplistic story makes it impossible to imagine her essay about Mr. Charlie as anything but fiction."

    No it doesn't.

    December 2, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  41. jez

    Wow – great article. I learned something. Thank you Ms. McGurire and bless you Rosa Parks!

    December 2, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • donato

      Wasn't she mugged by a bro when she was in her 80's. She freed her people to mug and kill and walk away free. Thanks

      December 2, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
      • Poop

        Your wording is a bit racist, but I tend to agree with you. This country has gone to hell in a handbasket since the civil rights movement. There is too much crime, especially among black males.

        December 2, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
      • The GOP need to pack up and leave

        She was robbed by a kid who had NO idea who she was. I'm sure he was instructed in her importance once he got to jail.

        December 3, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
      • jbcal

        Yes she was, in Detroit, but if I remember correctly he did not walk away free.

        December 3, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
      • Black in America

        Stop blaming blacks for your problems in this country ,white leaders destroyed this country. Poor white trash always blaming someone else for your problems .

        December 7, 2012 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
  42. dorothy

    Wow....you read the hateful posts on this site and then you go to a story about gays and read the hateful posts on those sites. It is true what they say.....bigotry is bigotry....it doesn't matter if it is against women, blacks, gays, jews or catholics. How sad that some people feel a need to hate so much.

    December 2, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • paulm5545

      "bigotry is bigotry....it doesn't matter if it is against women, blacks, gays, jews or catholics. How sad that some people feel a need to hate so much."

      You forgot – ...might as well add Asians, Hispanics, Caucasians, people over 60, Republicans, Democrats, Obama, Bush, etc., etc., etc....

      December 3, 2012 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Beanies

      Welcome to the comment section on CNN.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  43. Just Me

    Konrad... As a Black woman, I can't help but to LoL at your comments, while shaking my head. Was that really meant to incite?? If so, it's not working. Just shows how a computer screen & keyboard can cause you to be bolder than normal.

    December 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam Cooke

      Thanks you James Earl Ray

      December 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Michael John Anthony

    It says something that you feel comfortable in your vilification of half the human race but you can't bring yourself to type the word "damn". THAT would be going too far!

    December 2, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Crecymar

    I know about it all, a lot of people do and the rage about the media ignoring it is building. Sooner or later, this rage is going to explode and these left wingers at CNN and other networks and in the government are going to have to answer.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Nathan

    violence by young black gangs against white people chosen at random on beaches, in shopping malls, or in other public places have occurred in Philadelphia, New York, Denver, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, Los Angeles, and other places across the country. Both the authorities and the media tend to try to sweep these episodes under the rug.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Crecymar

    I know about it, and there are many more heinously brutal murders by blacks just like it. It's one incident in a list that is to long to name and these people get no voices from these malicious left wing media outlets. If one were to only watch this so called main stream news, you would never know these murders and rapes happened.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Nathan

    violence by young black gangs against white people chosen at random on beaches, in shopping malls, or in other public places have occurred in Philadelphia, New York, Denver, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, Los Angeles, and other places across the country. Both the authorities and the media tend to try to sweep these episodes under the rug.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Avast

      Since when?

      December 2, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
      • Melvin Dudley aka Charles Johnson

        A great true story, I have heard some of this from Rosa years ago. I first met her in in summer of 1960 at a S.N.I.C.K meeting at a camp on Mt Eagle, Tennessee. (I was 18) As you state she was not this little demure lady, she stood up for here rights. She gave me a great honor. She said," I like you white boy", and just smiled. I would hope for more to be said about Marcus DuBoise (sp) and many others. Thanks to you and CNN.

        December 2, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      Most gangs, regardless of race, are violent.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
    • fyre

      Don't think the media has swept them under the rug – I've definitely heard of the flash mobs. Haven't heard of any recent events. The real crime that is generally swept under the rug are the billions of dollars of fraud from white collar criminals. One of them, the Medicare fraud by that dialysis center, is on CNN. 99.9% of them aren't publicized. There are serious problems in the Af Am community and culture right now, but which should you be more outraged about? Being mugged for that $50 in your wallet or having $5,000 of your yearly taxes being embezzled to buy fine French wines for some corporate fat cat?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
      • Jason

        I would be more outraged about the person mugging someone for $50. You see, the corporate fatcat isn't directly endangering anyone's life with his crime. Not saying it is ok, your question was which is worse. Typically, in a mugging, the victim is either physically in danger or suffers physical consequences. It isn't always about a dollar amount.

        December 3, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • jbcal

      Thank goodness we have you to bring all of that to light.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Black in America

      that's a lie,blacks rarely commit crimes against white people.

      December 7, 2012 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
  49. JCQueipo

    Who cares about what you have to say Who Cares !!

    December 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Crecymar

    As if there isn't enough rape, murder and violence against white people already, CNN instigates more hate for white people by recycling 60 year old incidents. What CNN is doing is a crime.
    Where are the articles and "opinions" about the hundreds of thousands of white victims of black violence, many of whom were children or old women? There is more than can possibly be reported yet you have never reported even one of their stories. This is because CNN condones this rape, crime and murder because this is a racist propaganda network.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • LaneyMaee

      That isn't what is portrayed in this article. The article is merely news about a writing found from Rosa Parks. If you have an issue with CNN please explain to me why you are on their site, because I just don't see the point in wasting your time on a website you supposedly hate.

      December 2, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
      • CA Liberal

        LaneyMaee.............you are so right. Well said.

        December 2, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • studyhistorymuch


      December 3, 2012 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Mack

      You sound crazy and prejudice. White crimes towards blacks far out weigh any crimes blacks committed towards white people. Over 400 years of murders, rape, beatings, ect.

      December 3, 2012 at 5:24 am | Report abuse |
      • Denazo

        Nice fantasy attempt to justify a victim mentality, Mack. 400 years ago it was 1612, and there was no United States yet. Try to get an education to justify that outrage...

        December 3, 2012 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
      • fyre

        Maybe he means pre-US? He's perfectly correct about the date – the West Af slave trade was established in the 1600s by Europeans. Blacks aren't the only race to get screwed by Europeans, though.

        December 3, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Shug

      You can't disregard history. White people have gotten away with (or covered up) way more horrible crimes against blacks, past and present and you will never hear about them, but apparently it's a problem when a white crime against black story is highlighted. I appreciate Ms. McGuire for putting this article out there. I only wish there were more stories that came to light.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Hogan's Goat

      "CNN instigates more hate for white people" These guys haven't stopped crying and wetting themselves with a bottle in their hand since Mitt lost. What a bunch of babies. Get over it.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  51. Sheila

    We were made in the image of God, so if we are subhuman, you are calling the heavenly father subhuman, and you will answer for it at the judgment. PS, I feel sorry for you, and your lack, period.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      No one knows what God is. As far as we know, he's completely non-human. Also, since he's the "creator," then that means he's female since only females can create life. As for being made in God's image, that refers to intelligence, not form.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
      • fyre

        That's an interesting take on it, but I'm pretty sure that's not what 70% of Americans believe given their belief in creationism and extreme resistance to evolution or being included in the primate group.

        December 3, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
      • jbcal

        Females give birth, it takes a man and a woman to create life.

        December 3, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  52. lasereye

    Good for her – nobody human being deserves being treated like this – ever!

    December 2, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
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