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The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks

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This definitive biography of Rosa Parks accessibly examines her six decades of activism, challenging young readers perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement. Presenting a corrective to the popular notion of Rosa Parks as the quiet seamstress performed a single act that sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and birthed the modern civil rights moveme This definitive biography of Rosa Parks accessibly examines her six decades of activism, challenging young readers perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement. Presenting a corrective to the popular notion of Rosa Parks as the quiet seamstress performed a single act that sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and birthed the modern civil rights movement, Jeanne Theoharis provides a revealing window into Parks' politics and decades of activism. She shows readers how the movement radically sought--for more than a half a century--to expose and eradicate the American racial-caste system in jobs, schools, public services, and criminal justice and how Rosa Parks was a key player throughout. The original text is fully adapted by the award-winning young adult author Brandy Colbert, for middle-grade and young adult readers to include archival images and personal papers of Rosa Parks, and to provide the necessary historical context to bring the multi-faceted, decades long civil rights movement to life. Colbert creates an engaging and comprehensive narrative centered on Parks' life of activism, to encourage readers not only to question where and who their history comes, but to search for histories beyond the dominant narratives.


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This definitive biography of Rosa Parks accessibly examines her six decades of activism, challenging young readers perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement. Presenting a corrective to the popular notion of Rosa Parks as the quiet seamstress performed a single act that sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and birthed the modern civil rights moveme This definitive biography of Rosa Parks accessibly examines her six decades of activism, challenging young readers perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement. Presenting a corrective to the popular notion of Rosa Parks as the quiet seamstress performed a single act that sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and birthed the modern civil rights movement, Jeanne Theoharis provides a revealing window into Parks' politics and decades of activism. She shows readers how the movement radically sought--for more than a half a century--to expose and eradicate the American racial-caste system in jobs, schools, public services, and criminal justice and how Rosa Parks was a key player throughout. The original text is fully adapted by the award-winning young adult author Brandy Colbert, for middle-grade and young adult readers to include archival images and personal papers of Rosa Parks, and to provide the necessary historical context to bring the multi-faceted, decades long civil rights movement to life. Colbert creates an engaging and comprehensive narrative centered on Parks' life of activism, to encourage readers not only to question where and who their history comes, but to search for histories beyond the dominant narratives.

30 review for The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks

  1. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Waloven

    This is a must read for all but especially the young reader or those seeking to expand their knowledge of history. The book follows Rosa Park from her earliest efforts to stand up for herself to her death. She wasn’t just a one time, sit down on a bus, tired woman but a lifelong advocate for desegregation and equal rights for her race and gender. An amazing read about an amazing woman.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    This is a great new discussion of Parks' life that looks more closely at her childhood as well as the Civil Rights work she did up until her death in 2005. With a continuing interest in Black history, it's good to see a thorough adult book adapted by a Young Adult and Middle Grade author. (See Colbert's The Only Black Girls in Town). While it's a little long (288 pages), it's wonderfully complete, and includes a lot of primary source pictures and copies of documents. This is a much more thoughtf This is a great new discussion of Parks' life that looks more closely at her childhood as well as the Civil Rights work she did up until her death in 2005. With a continuing interest in Black history, it's good to see a thorough adult book adapted by a Young Adult and Middle Grade author. (See Colbert's The Only Black Girls in Town). While it's a little long (288 pages), it's wonderfully complete, and includes a lot of primary source pictures and copies of documents. This is a much more thoughtful biography than the ones I have, so I'm definitely ordering it for my library. (Hull's 1994 installment of Black Americans of Achievement, Rosa Parks, is VERY worn out!)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Porshea DiMera

    What we know about Rosa Parks is challenged and illuminated in this brilliant biography which shines a light on her intersectional activism — a history much diluted within the grand narrative of the Civil Rights movement. Think a second about what you know about Rosa Parks. You probably know that she’s from Alabama, worked as a seamstress, and about her protests as part of the Montgomery bus boycott — a whole of her activist life as summed up in many of our school history books. If you’ve probed What we know about Rosa Parks is challenged and illuminated in this brilliant biography which shines a light on her intersectional activism — a history much diluted within the grand narrative of the Civil Rights movement. Think a second about what you know about Rosa Parks. You probably know that she’s from Alabama, worked as a seamstress, and about her protests as part of the Montgomery bus boycott — a whole of her activist life as summed up in many of our school history books. If you’ve probed her history a bit deeper, you may have learned of her work with the NAACP before the boycott and how she helped build a case against Recy Taylor’s rapists. And, if you’re like me, you may have heard conjecture that Rosa Parks’ refusal to get up from her seat on that most revered day was orchestrated by the NAACP and not the narrative that she was a tired woman who wanted to rest her feet. That Claudette Colvin had protested in this way before Rosa had but was dismissed as a representative for the movement based on respectability standards that the NAACP enforced. Jeanne Theoharis and Brandy Colbert, the authors of this biography, would have you know that much of this is true. However, unlike what we’ve been taught, these facts fail to touch even a third of the rich and rebellious life that Rosa Parks led. It is incredibly tempting to present the information shared within this tome as did you know questions, chronicling the profound persistence and patient impatience with which Parks pursued racial, sexual, and economic justice. Justice she pushed for long before and after the activism she became famous for on the behalf of people like her and those she would never meet. What stands out most in the biography is the way she persevered in this advocacy most of her life through fear and hopelessness that white supremacy enforces to keep people from doing so. She was fastidious in noting that her success in the bus boycott was due to the years of work put in by herself and others. Rosa Parks was not the first person to refuse to be moved on the Montgomery buses — the instance she is most famous for was not even the first time she had protested similarly — nor are her mug shots or pictures on the bus from that particular day. Black people refusing to be moved when bus drivers forced Jim Crow laws were so ubiquitous in the city that the cops who arrested her were surprised when the driver of her bus pressed charges – an ordeal that did not garner any interest from the press. People like Hilliard Brooks died protesting bus segregation in Montgomery previously, so Rosa’s case was not even the most dire of circumstances. Yet, her relationship with the Montgomery head of the NAACP meant that he was the one who bailed her out of jail and led the search for a lawyer to represent her case. Their relationships with the press meant that the case garnered much more attention, especially when it began to infuriate the middle to upper class white supremacist group, White Citizens’ Council. Read more here: https://blackgirlscreate.org/2021/02/...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shoshanah

    Growing up I remember doing a project for Black History Month and I wanted to do mine on Rosa Parks. My mom instead convinced me to learn about Harriet Tubman. Granted I think part of it was the lack of books on Mrs. Parks, but I was left with the impression that her accomplishments weren’t that impressive since all she did was sit on a bus. If only there was a book like The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis back then! Specifically this Young Readers’ Edition which was adapt Growing up I remember doing a project for Black History Month and I wanted to do mine on Rosa Parks. My mom instead convinced me to learn about Harriet Tubman. Granted I think part of it was the lack of books on Mrs. Parks, but I was left with the impression that her accomplishments weren’t that impressive since all she did was sit on a bus. If only there was a book like The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis back then! Specifically this Young Readers’ Edition which was adapted with Brandy Colbert. The book starts with Rosa’s early life where early on she stood up to bullies. While Rosa feels like a modern figure her grandparents were born enslaved. It makes you realize how little time has past since Blacks were enslaved in America. It was only a couple of generations ago. It tells how as an adult she became involved with NAACP serving as secretary of the Montgomery chapter. How she was able to register to vote after years of trying. There is of course a lot of detail about her historic bus ride. But also why she became a symbol as opposed to other young women also arrested for the same reason. Often we hear a simplified version of the past where Mrs. Parks wouldn’t give up her seat, there was a bus boycott, and segregation ended but there’s so much missing from that narrative. Instead such a simple act completely altered the course of her life. Yes, new opportunities arose for her vector it. But her life was threatened, both she and her husband were out of work and unable to find employment. She and her husband even left Alabama moving closer to family in Detroit. Not surprisingly she still found racism outside of the South even if there weren’t actual signs posted on business. As a young readers’ edition there isn’t a lot of extreme details in this. But it also doesn’t hold back talking about the rapes, lynchings, and murders that impacted her life. Interestingly there is a lot of discussion of sexism. Specifically in how women did so much of the groundwork with civil rights, but often weren’t allowed to have a voice or lead the movements. We often don’t hear what happened to Mrs. Parks after the Civil Rights movement of the 50s. But throughout the rest of her life she continued to join causes against the Vietnam War and Apartheid, ensuring voting rights, and ending police brutality. Things that are still a forefront of our society today. I did enjoy the first half of this the more in which there was more of a narrative. Instead the second half jumped around more and wasn’t as chronological but did touch of events such as meeting Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II. Overall I highly recommend this, especially if you’re looking to learn more about Rosa Parks and her contributions to Civil Rights. 4.5/5 Disclosure: I was provided this book through a @goodreads First Reads Giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    From its enticing title pushing back at the commonly-held assumption that Rosa Parks was a quiet woman who happened to step accidentally into history to its conclusion, this biography of the civil rights leader is filled with many truths about her and the movement in which she was so deeply involved. The introduction discusses how frustrated Parks became at her own singular notoriety, traced to one act of courage on a bus, when the truth of her activism was so much more than that. In fact, Rosa' From its enticing title pushing back at the commonly-held assumption that Rosa Parks was a quiet woman who happened to step accidentally into history to its conclusion, this biography of the civil rights leader is filled with many truths about her and the movement in which she was so deeply involved. The introduction discusses how frustrated Parks became at her own singular notoriety, traced to one act of courage on a bus, when the truth of her activism was so much more than that. In fact, Rosa's fight for social justice and civil rights did not begin or end in Montgomery, Alabama. Born in Tuskegee and reared in Pine Level, Rosa was aware from an early age of the violent threats under which many Blacks of that time labored. Hers was a literate family, and she loved to read and stretch herself intellectually. Although she was unable to attend college due to her mother's health, she found work as a seamstress and a lifelong calling in righting the wrongs she saw around her. This book covers her formative years as well as those leading up to the stand she took on that bus, and it's clear that her husband, Raymond, was also an important part of the movement. His involvement lessened over the years as Rosa's remained steady, but he supported her throughout her life. What readers may not realize is the financial and emotional toll all this took on her family and how things became so uncomfortable for the Parks that they moved to Detroit. But living there was no picnic either as the family struggled to find employment or afford housing. It's heartbreaking to read about how much they struggled and disappointing to read about the way the male leadership tended to marginalize women in the movement. The book includes realia from the time period as well as notes from Rosa Parks herself. If nothing else, this biography offers insight into a woman who dedicated six decades of her life to the civil rights movement. She may have been quiet and soft-spoken, but she clearly was not weak. I came away from the book with a completely new appreciation of Rosa Parks as a woman as well as deeper understanding of the historical context of her life. This book, the Young Readers' Edition adapted for teen readers, is necessary and important reading, and might be useful as a supplemental text in a high school class. I'm grateful that the author chose to tell Rosa Parks' story in its entirety in order to challenge many assumptions about this well-loved icon.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

    This is an excellent biography of Rosa Parks. All of the photographs and images, including samples of Mrs. Parks writing in her own handwriting add an immediacy to the narrative that draws the reader in. The bibliography and index will be invaluable to middle-grade and high school students writing reports or doing a research project. I really love how it shows that Rosa Park's actions the day she sat down on the bus were deliberate and not simply a matter of her being tired. I think this myth ha This is an excellent biography of Rosa Parks. All of the photographs and images, including samples of Mrs. Parks writing in her own handwriting add an immediacy to the narrative that draws the reader in. The bibliography and index will be invaluable to middle-grade and high school students writing reports or doing a research project. I really love how it shows that Rosa Park's actions the day she sat down on the bus were deliberate and not simply a matter of her being tired. I think this myth has been perpetuated for too long and has been bought into by many school children thus negating the true strength and courage of Rosa Parks and her actions on that memorable day. I also really like how the book does not only deal with the bus boycott but covers Park's life both before and after the boycott showing that Rosa Parks was a lifelong Freedom Fighter. This book should be in every school and public library and would be a great class read. Full disclosure - I received this as a free giveaway on goodreads from Beacon Press.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I think this is a great book for teens about Rosa Parks. I really don't remember much about Rosa Parks from school. I think this book opens one's eyes to the fact that for Mrs. Parks being involved in civil rights was a life-long passion. Her arrest for not moving on the bus was just a small fraction of her life. Another good title for this book would have been the Persistent Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks because that is what she did her entire life. She persisted despite financial difficulties, healt I think this is a great book for teens about Rosa Parks. I really don't remember much about Rosa Parks from school. I think this book opens one's eyes to the fact that for Mrs. Parks being involved in civil rights was a life-long passion. Her arrest for not moving on the bus was just a small fraction of her life. Another good title for this book would have been the Persistent Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks because that is what she did her entire life. She persisted despite financial difficulties, health issues, threats to her life, set-backs in the civil rights movement etc. She never gave up.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    While it's full of great information, I can't help but feel that a lot of this is written for a middle grade audience rather than YA. Also, it feels really unfocused at times, meandering through the history of side characters and lacking the focus on Rosa Parks that the title and cover implies. There is also many moments of conjecture that bothered me in what's supposed to be a history book for teens. Over all, I learned a lot of things I didn't previously know, but I read this for an awards com While it's full of great information, I can't help but feel that a lot of this is written for a middle grade audience rather than YA. Also, it feels really unfocused at times, meandering through the history of side characters and lacking the focus on Rosa Parks that the title and cover implies. There is also many moments of conjecture that bothered me in what's supposed to be a history book for teens. Over all, I learned a lot of things I didn't previously know, but I read this for an awards committee and I can't say that this is at the level I was expecting.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This is a very enjoyable, yet informative book about the life of Rosa Parks. It is adapted for young readers, but I still enjoyed it as an adult reader. People need to realize that Rosa Parks was much more involved in the Civil Rights Movement than is usually represented, and I ended up feeling that she deserves much more honor and respect than what she gets for her stand in Montgomery, AL. She did much more than that. I didn’t agree with all of her viewpoints, but she was an amazing woman.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Erin Brown

    Although this was intended for younger readers, I thoroughly enjoyed this myself. This book is entertaining, and will most definitely keep young people engrossed throughout. I learned a lot by reading this book, and am so happy I did. My 11 year old niece just finished reading it as well, and she is going to do a school project on Rosa Parks since reading, which really warmed my heart. Highly recommend getting this for you the young reader in your life, or maybe even just for yourself.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    Brilliant. All the stars

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mitch Ryan

    Great job author, I really like your writing style. I suggest you join NovelStar’s writing competition on April.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Darryl Barney

    This book is an absolute must read for all and how exciting that it is now YA accessible. Mrs. Rosa Parks was a fierce organizer and life-long social justice warrior. It is unfortunate that her multifaceted activism is often erased and we are only taught a single act of Mrs. Parks--and even that single act is taught without the proper nuance. The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks opened my eyes to the many campaigns and struggles Mrs. Parks engaged in--from the south to the north--and well into This book is an absolute must read for all and how exciting that it is now YA accessible. Mrs. Rosa Parks was a fierce organizer and life-long social justice warrior. It is unfortunate that her multifaceted activism is often erased and we are only taught a single act of Mrs. Parks--and even that single act is taught without the proper nuance. The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks opened my eyes to the many campaigns and struggles Mrs. Parks engaged in--from the south to the north--and well into the later years of her life. I absolutely will be purchasing this work for my young nieces.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Meep

  15. 4 out of 5

    Esgagu

  16. 4 out of 5

    Susan Farro

  17. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  18. 4 out of 5

    Denise LaRosa

  19. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sister M.

  21. 4 out of 5

    DrPierre Imare

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sue

  23. 4 out of 5

    Art Palmer

  24. 4 out of 5

    MayorEmma

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joscelyn

  26. 4 out of 5

    OTIS

  27. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katie Carpenter

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

  30. 4 out of 5

    Łukasz

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