Documentary depicts Rosa Parks as a ‘badass’ fighter for justice

Rosa Parks speaking at the conclusion of 1965 civil rights march in Mongomery, Alabama. The Rev. Ralph Abernathy is on the left.  (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein/Getty Images)

You know Rosa Parks as the civil rights icon who sparked the yearlong Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama by refusing to give up her seat to a white man in 1955.

You can picture her face, somber and bespectacled at age 42 in her famous mug shot, gentle and smiling as a older woman revered as a civil rights icon.

But what else do you know about her? “Pause for a moment. What does her voice sound like? What do her political ideas sound like?” asks historian Jeanne Theoharis.

If you fail that pop quiz, so will many others. For too long, the story of Parks has been oversimplified in the public mind. Her image tends to be frozen in time as a mild-mannered seamstress too weary to move from her bus seat on that day in 1955. 

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