ROSA PARKS turns 100

“The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
—Rosa Parks

A fantastic, thorough interview on Democracy Now about the iconic Rosa Parks, with author Jeanne Theoharis. It’s a wealth of detailed, cared-for, passionate, necessary and brilliant historical information.

Among many things, what really amazed me was to hear that Rosa Parks’ hero was Malcolm X—even over Martin Luther King, whom she knew very well, from 1955. Indeed, Rosa’s refusal to give up her bus seat on Dec 1, 1955, in a way, kicked off MLK’s career and fame.

Rosa Parks has often been portrayed as a mild-mannered seamstress. The truth is she was brilliantly radical and a committed activist. For me, her affection for Malcolm X brilliantly shifts and illustrates the intensity of Rosa Parks’ political position and rebellious nature.

I directed a documentary on Muhammad Ali called Facing Ali, and I really tried to get it into the film how Muhammad Ali, in holding to his affiliation with the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad, turned against Malcolm X (wrongly and in a way cruelly). And Malcolm X had, in so many ways, been Ali’s mentor, stayed with him, encouraged him immensely before his first fight with Sonny Liston. Later, Ali would admit that “…turning my back on Malcolm…” was one of the great regrets of his life.

Fascinating, painful, miraculous, hopeful life.

PS In June 1956, the NAACP is attacked by many southern states, “red-baited” and outlawed in Alabama.


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