Book Review–Rosa Parks: A Life by Douglas G. Brinkley



This is the 18th book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.


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Rosa Parks: A Life by Douglas G. Brinkley
Published 2000 by Turtleback Books


Most Americans know her only as the 42-year-old seamstress who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus. Her quiet act of defiance is often considered the beginning of the modern civil rights movement, but historian Douglas Brinkley reminds us that it was neither the beginning nor the end of Rosa Parks’s quest for justice.

On that fateful day in 1955 she was already a veteran civil rights activist, married to a charter member of the NAACP’s Montgomery chapter, and a devout member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the many black churches whose congregants organized and fought to desegregate the South. Brinkley gives a thorough account of Parks’s political life in the South and in Detroit (where she moved in 1957 to escape death threats), capturing her majestic personal dignity.

Yet he also places her activism within a vivid historical context, anchored by extensive interviews with her peers and Parks herself as well as scholarly research. His subject is now a frail octogenarian, but Brinkley conveys the power of her legacy in a moving final scene when Nelson Mandela, just four months out of a South African jail in 1990, embraces Parks as a comrade and a beloved mentor.



I’ve always admired Rosa Parks, though I knew very little about her life aside from the bus boycott, and I didn’t even know all the details of that. This book does a great job filling in the details of how she came to that point in her life, the people who inspired her along the way, and also the activism as well as her life after.

Those who love detailed history will like this book. There was so much detail and facts that I felt like a lot of it went over my head, but I learned some very interesting things about Rosa Parks and the entire movement that I didn’t know before. I definitely have even more respect for her now.

Not something I would probably re-read as I’m not a huge fan of non-fiction, but definitely a great reference book to keep on hand.







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