ROSA PARKS, the civil rights icon made famous for her refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus in Montgomery, Ala., in December 1955, often is mischaracterized as a quiet seamstress, with little attention paid to her full life story. A Library of Congress exhibition, "Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words," reveals the real Parks--a seasoned activist with a militant spirit forged over decades of challenging inequality and injustice.
This is the first exhibition of the Rosa Parks Collection, which includes her personal writings, reflections, photographs, records, and memorabilia. The collection was placed on loan with the Library in 2014 and became a permanent gift in 2016.
"Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words" immerses visitors in Parks' words, reflections, handwritten notes, and photographs from throughout her life, allowing her to tell her own story. Four sections of the exhibition explore Parks' early life and activism; the Montgomery bus boycott; the fallout from Parks' arrest for her family and their move to Detroit; and the global impact of her life.
"Rosa Parks lived a life dedicated to equal rights and social justice, and she helped change the country with the example she set," says Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. "Our new exhibition is an important milestone for Rosa Parks to tell her story for new generations through her own words and pictures...."
Born and reared in Alabama during the Jim Crow era of legally mandated segregation, Rosa Louise McCauley was taught by her grandfather "never to accept mistreatment." She married Raymond Parks, a charter member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People branch in Montgomery, Ala., in 1932, and together they were early activists for racial equality. They would organize to free the Scottsboro Boys in the 1930s. In 1943, Parks became the secretary of the Montgomery NAACP, and the branch focused on voter registration and cases of racial violence and discrimination.
After the bus incident, she was punished with death threats, unemployment, and poverty, but remained committed to the struggle for social justice. Throughout her life, Parks would advocate for civil rights, workers' rights, women's rights, prisoners' rights, and black youth, and she spoke out against apartheid and other injustices around the world.
Highlights from the exhibition include:
* The Parks' family Bible, which is being exhibited for the...