Portrayed by Becky Stone
Sometimes when the status quo needs to be shaken up, it is necessary to take a stand. Other times, one must courageously take a seat. Rosa Parks is best known for being arrested for sitting in the wrong bus seat. But Parks was not an apolitical, middle-aged lady whose fatigue kept her seated. Hers was an act that radically changed America to reinvent itself.
Founded on the opinion that human beings can be owned by others, America placed its democracy in the hands of free white landed males. It took a bloody Civil War before America abolished slavery. Soon after, Jim Crow laws, lynching and voter suppression changed it back into a nation where rights were brutally divided along color lines.
By the 1950’s a different America was emerging. Brown vs Board of Education ruled racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional. And a woman named Rosa Parks and a whole new concept of Civil Rights was about to reinvent American democracy.
Becky Stone, holds a BA from Vassar College in drama and a MA in Elementary Educational Counseling from Villanova University. She is a former teacher of theater and chorus and theater appreciation at Veritas Christian Academy in Fletcher, NC. While raising their four children, she helped her husband start GreenPrints Magazine, a garden quarterly. She continues as the Circulation Manager.
Becky has been a regular storyteller-performer at the Biltmore Estate for many years. She has performed as a storyteller at schools, libraries, and festivals throughout Western North Carolina specializing in African-American, Appalachian, and world tales. She also researched, developed, and performed historical programs for the Center for Diversity Education in Asheville, The North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, the Asheville Contemporary Dance Theater, and the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She has also performs in several area theater companies.
In 2003 Becky performed his first Chautauqua character: Pauli Murray, civil rights activist, lawyer, author of States Laws on Race and Color and first black women ordained an Episcopal priest. She has since added Harriet Tubman and Maya Angelou to her repertoire. She has performed Chautauqua venues nationwide.
1913 – Born in Tuskeegee, AL
1932 – Marries Raymond Parks
1943 – Joins Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and becomes the secretary under E.D. Nixon’s presidency
– Thrown off a city bus by James Blake, the same driver who has her arrested in 1955.
1945 – Successfully registers to vote on her third attempt
1949 – Helps start the Montgomery NAACP Youth Council, the beginning of her life-long commitment to youth
1955 – Attends the Highlander Folk School, a training center for activists
– Arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus
– The Montgomery bus boycott begins, ending just over a year later (381 days)
1957 – Moves to Detroit after death threats and both she and her husband losing their jobs
1963 – Participates in the great March to Freedom (Detroit) and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (D.C.)
1965 – Begins 23 years as manager of the Detroit office of Rep. John Conyers
1987 – Establishes the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development
1996 – Receives the Medal of Freedom from Pres. Clinton
1999 – Receives the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor
2005 – Dies and is the first African American woman to lie in state in the US Capitol building
I don’t believe in gradualism or that whatever is to be done for the better should take forever to do.
Action is my domain. It’s not what I say but what I do that matters.
Segregation itself is vicious. To my mind, there was no way you could make segregation decent or nice or acceptable.
You died a little each time you found yourself face to face with this kind of discrimination.
By the time I was 6, I was old enough to realize that we were not actually free.
Love, not fear, must be our guide.
When one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.
I felt I had been destroyed too long ago. I had hope that the young people would be benefitted by equal education, should the decision of 1954 be carried out as it should have been.
I would be lynched rather than be run over by them.
I felt that I was lynched many times in mind and spirit.
Your behavior must be above reproach . . . This is how you gain the respect of others.
* Rosa Parks: A Life by Douglas Brinkley (2000)
Thoroughly researched, very readable, encompassing biography. Even the bibliographical notes are a good read.
* Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks with Jim Haskins (1999)
You can hear Rosa’s voice as you read this. She has a heart for young people, and this was written for them. Gives her overview with personal insights.
* The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis (2013)
Written with an eye toward understanding the things in Park’s life that contributed to her activism and militancy. Your idea of who Rosa Parks was may change.
(Starred items are available in the Greenville County Library System.)