The first thing you notice about Rosa Parks: My Story is the serene face on the book jacket — dreamy, almost vulnerable. It’s hard to imagine this young woman becoming — as she is sometimes called — ”the mother of the civil rights movement.” Rosa Parks was 42 when she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., bus 36 years ago. Parks’ subsequent arrest and trial on charges of violating segregation laws led to a number of watershed events in American history: a yearlong boycott by blacks of the city’s buses, the Supreme Court’s decision in 1956 that segregation on Montgomery’s buses was unconstitutional, and the rise of the young Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as a leader in the civil rights cause.
The release of Rosa will coincide with the writer’s 79th birthday on Feb. 4. Parks, who lives in Detroit, wrote her autobiography with the help of author Jim Haskins (The Cotton Club). Young readers in particular may be drawn to the chapters about her childhood (”Like millions of black children, before me and after me, I wondered if ‘White’ water tasted different from ‘Colored’ water”). She also gives her version of the events of Dec. 1, 1955: ”People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired but that isn’t true…No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
”It’s in her own words,” says Haskins. ”Not someone else interpreting what the bus boycott was about.
”Miss Parks is a very determined lady,” Haskins adds. ”What you see with Miss Parks is what you get. It took a lot of courage to say ‘no.’ It’s as simple as that.”