John Simkin Posted October 26, 2005 Share Posted October 26, 2005 One of my year 13 students last year was doing a debate on her for an English Language session and she suggested that the Rosa Parks incident was 'set-up' in order to maximise publicity for the cause and as a change in policy for the movement she supported. This point returned to mind this morning....This students also suggested / proffered that there had been an incident with another girl earlier in the same year. She, though, did not have the same impact. I do not believe that this story/fable/point lessens the value of Mrs Parks and, if anything, blesses the courage of such a lady - for it took a second occassion for anything to change. Has anyone else heard this story? Can they add weight to my absent knowledge? Gidz This is a posting that appeared on a Forum I am unable to post on (without it being censored). I therefore thought I would reply here as it is a very important issue. The teacher’s lack of knowledge is a reflection on the quality of the textbooks that are used in schools. Rosa Parks is often portrayed as an “innocent” old lady who one day decided to rebel. In fact, the truth is far more complex than that. Rosa Parks became active in the civil rights in the early 1940s. She joined the National Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) and within a couple of years had become secretary of the Montgomery branch (chapter). In this role she met figures such as Philip Randolph, Edgar Nixon and Ella Baker. These activists worked within a range of different organizations. This included the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Established in 1942, members were mainly pacifists who had been deeply influenced by Henry David Thoreau and the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and the non-violent civil disobedience campaign that he used successfully against British rule in India. The students became convinced that the same methods could be employed by blacks to obtain civil rights in America. In early 1947, CORE announced plans to send eight white and eight black men into the Deep South to test the Supreme Court ruling that declared segregation in interstate travel unconstitutional. organized by George Houser and Bayard Rustin, the Journey of Reconciliation was to be a two week pilgrimage through Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. The Journey of Reconciliation began on 9th April, 1947. The team included George Houser, Bayard Rustin, James Peck, Igal Roodenko, Nathan Wright, Conrad Lynn, Wallace Nelson, Andrew Johnson, Eugene Stanley, Dennis Banks, William Worthy, Louis Adams, Joseph Felmet, Worth Randle and Homer Jack. Members of the Journey of Reconciliation team were arrested several times. In North Carolina, two of the African Americans, Bayard Rustin and Andrew Johnson, were found guilty of violating the state's Jim Crow bus statute and were sentenced to thirty days on a chain gang. However, Judge Henry Whitfield made it clear he found that behaviour of the white men even more objectionable. He told Igal Roodenko and Joseph Felmet: "It's about time you Jews from New York learned that you can't come down her bringing your niggers with you to upset the customs of the South. Just to teach you a lesson, I gave your black boys thirty days, and I give you ninety." Rosa Parks and other civil rights activists considered using these tactics in Montgomery. However, under pressure from the NAACP, this never took place. Thurgood Marshall, head of the NAACP's legal department had warned that a "disobedience movement on the part of Negroes and their white allies, if employed in the South, would result in wholesale slaughter with no good achieved." In early 1955, Claudette Colvin, a 15 year old black girl was dragged off a bus in Montgomery and arrested for not giving up her seat to a white person. The NAACP now agreed to take up the Colvin incident as a test case. It believed that this would result in a similar outcome to the 1954 Supreme Court Decision on segregation in education. However, the NAACP decided to drop the idea when they discovered that Colvin was pregnant. They knew that the authorities in Montgomery would use this against them in the propaganda war that would inevitably take place during this legal battle. It has been assumed that because of Colvin’s pregnancy, the Rosa Parks incident was a set-up. However, this is not the case. On 1st December, 1955, Rosa Parks, left Montgomery Fair, the department store where she worked, and got on the same bus as she did every night. It is not true that she sat in the whites-only front part of the bus (this is the story that most textbooks tell). As always she sat at the back of the bus. However, when the bus became full, the driver instructed Rosa to give up her seat to a white person. This had happened to Rosa several times before. In fact, the same bus driver had forced her off the bus in 1943 for committing the same offence. Once again she refused and was arrested by the police. She was found guilty of violating the segregation law and fined. It was only at this stage, after consulting friends and family, that she decided to approach the NAACP and volunteer to become a test case. This was a brave decision as she knew it would result in persecution by the white authorities. In fact, this became so intense she was forced to go and live in Detroit. Later she became special assistant to Democratic Congressman John Conyers. He was of course one of those who has constantly called for investigations into the role that the CIA has played in American politics. However, that is another story: http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=5005 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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