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2014 NAACP Image Award Winner: Outstanding Literary Work – Biography / Auto Biography 2013 Letitia Woods Brown Award from the Association of Black Women Historians Choice Top 25 Academic Titles for 2013 The definitive political biography of Rosa Parks examines her six decades of activism, challenging perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement Presenting a corrective to the popular notion of Rosa Parks as the quiet seamstress who, with a single act, birthed the modern civil rights movement, Theoharis provides a revealing window into Parks’s politics and years of activism. She shows readers how this civil rights movement radical sought—for more than a half a century—to expose and eradicate the American racial-caste system in jobs, schools, public services, and criminal justice.
Spanning the history of American leadership, the book examines all facets of American thought leaders and innovators along with the models of ethics and courage they've provided for the American consciousness. From Thomas Paine to Rosa Parks, the book provides a multi-faceted approach to American leadership studies.
The civil rights movement has become national legend, lauded by presidents from Reagan to Obama to Trump, as proof of the power of American democracy. This fable, featuring dreamy heroes and accidental heroines, has shuttered the movement firmly in the past, whitewashed the forces that stood in its way, and diminished its scope. And it is used perniciously in our own times to chastise present-day movements and obscure contemporary injustice. In A More Beautiful and Terrible History award-winning historian Jeanne Theoharis dissects this national myth-making, teasing apart the accepted stories to show them in a strikingly different light. We see Rosa Parks not simply as a bus lady but a lifelong criminal justice activist and radical; Martin Luther King, Jr. as not only challenging Southern sheriffs but Northern liberals, too; and Coretta Scott King not only as a "helpmate" but a lifelong economic justice and peace activist who pushed her husband's activism in these directions. Moving from "the histories we get" to "the histories we need," Theoharis challenges nine key aspects of the fable to reveal the diversity of people, especially women and young people, who led the movement; the work and disruption it took; the role of the media and "polite racism" in maintaining injustice; and the immense barriers and repression activists faced. Theoharis makes us reckon with the fact that far from being acceptable, passive or unified, the civil rights movement was unpopular, disruptive, and courageously persevering. Activists embraced an expansive vision of justice - which a majority of Americans opposed and which the federal government feared. By showing us the complex reality of the movement, the power of its organizing, and the beauty and scope of the vision, Theoharis proves that there was nothing natural or inevitable about the progress that occurred.
In the 1970s, feminist slogans proclaimed “Sisterhood is powerful,” and women’s historians searched through the historical archives to recover stories of solidarity and sisterhood. However, as feminist scholars have started taking a more intersectional approach—acknowledging that no woman is simply defined by her gender and that affiliations like race, class, and sexual identity are often equally powerful—women’s historians have begun to offer more varied and nuanced narratives. The ten original essays in U.S. Women's History represent a cross-section of current research in the field. Including work from both emerging and established scholars, this collection employs innovative approaches to study both the causes that have united American women and the conflicts that have divided them. Some essays uncover little-known aspects of women’s history, while others offer a fresh take on familiar events and figures, from Rosa Parks to Take Back the Night marches. Spanning the antebellum era to the present day, these essays vividly convey the long histories and ongoing relevance of topics ranging from women’s immigration to incarceration, from acts of cross-dressing to the activism of feminist mothers. This volume thus not only untangles the threads of the sisterhood mythos, it weaves them into a multi-textured and multi-hued tapestry that reflects the breadth and diversity of U.S. women’s history.
Did American racism originate in the liberal North? An inquiry into the system of institutionalized racism created by Northern Jim Crow Jim Crow was not a regional sickness, it was a national cancer. Even at the high point of twentieth century liberalism in the North, Jim Crow racism hid in plain sight. Perpetuated by colorblind arguments about “cultures of poverty,” policies focused more on black criminality than black equality. Procedures that diverted resources in education, housing, and jobs away from poor black people turned ghettos and prisons into social pandemics. Americans in the North made this history. They tried to unmake it, too. Liberalism, rather than lighting the way to vanquish the darkness of the Jim Crow North gave racism new and complex places to hide. The twelve original essays in this anthology unveil Jim Crow’s many strange careers in the North. They accomplish two goals: first, they show how the Jim Crow North worked as a system to maintain social, economic, and political inequality in the nation’s most liberal places; and second, they chronicle how activists worked to undo the legal, economic, and social inequities born of Northern Jim Crow policies, practices, and ideas. The book ultimately dispels the myth that the South was the birthplace of American racism, and presents a compelling argument that American racism actually originated in the North.
This first comprehensive biography of Jewish American writer and humorist Harry Golden (1903-1981)--author of the 1958 national best-seller Only in America--illuminates a remarkable life intertwined with the rise of the civil rights movement, Jewish popular culture, and the sometimes precarious position of Jews in the South and across America during the 1950s. After recounting Golden's childhood on New York's Lower East Side, Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett points to his stint in prison as a young man, after a widely publicized conviction for investment fraud during the Great Depression, as the root of his empathy for the underdog in any story. During World War II, the cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur landed in Charlotte, North Carolina, and founded the Carolina Israelite newspaper, which was published into the 1960s. Golden's writings on race relations and equal rights attracted a huge popular readership. Golden used his celebrity to editorialize for civil rights as the momentous story unfolded. He charmed his way into friendships and lively correspondence with Carl Sandburg, Adlai Stevenson, Robert Kennedy, and Billy Graham, among other notable Americans, and he appeared on the Tonight Show as well as other national television programs. Hartnett's spirited chronicle captures Golden's message of social inclusion for a new audience today.
Over the last several years, the traditional narrative of the civil rights movement as largely a southern phenomenon, organized primarily by male leaders, that roughly began with the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and ended with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, has been complicated by studies that root the movement in smaller communities across the country. These local movements had varying agendas and organizational development, geared to the particular circumstances, resources, and regions in which they operated. Local civil rights activists frequently worked in tandem with the national civil rights movement but often functioned autonomously from—and sometimes even at odds with—the national movement. Together, the pathbreaking essays in Groundwork teach us that local civil rights activity was a vibrant component of the larger civil rights movement, and contributed greatly to its national successes. Individually, the pieces offer dramatic new insights about the civil rights movement, such as the fact that a militant black youth organization in Milwaukee was led by a white Catholic priest and in Cambridge, Maryland, by a middle-aged black woman; that a group of middle-class, professional black women spearheaded Jackson, Mississippi's movement for racial justice and made possible the continuation of the Freedom Rides, and that, despite protests from national headquarters, the Brooklyn chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality staged a dramatic act of civil disobedience at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. No previous volume has enabled readers to examine several different local movements together, and in so doing, Groundwork forges a far more comprehensive vision of the black freedom movement.

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