De-mythologizing Rosa Parks

There’s a classic essay by Herbert Kohl entitled “The Politics of Children’s Literature: What’s Wrong with the Rosa Parks Myth” that summarizes how most children’s stories about Rosa Parks make it seem as if her act of civil disobedience was spontaneous and unconnected to wider civic rights activism.  However, Rosa Parks was a radical activist her whole life.  A recent article in the Washington Post discusses what the recently opened Rosa Park Collection tells us about Rosa Parks and her long history of activism for social justice.  Learn more about how she was a rebel from an early age by reading the article in its entirety.

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Searching for Malcolm X

I was thrilled to learn about this brand new young adult novel about Malcolm X, co-written by his daughter Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon, which made the National Book Awards long list:
x-a-novel

This led me to wonder whether there are any historical sites to visit if you want to learn more about Malcolm X. Sadly, I learned that the one National Park site is really just a plaque at the location where he was born, because the house he was born into was demolished. There is a move to preserve his childhood home in Boston MA, where he lived with his sister and it’s not too late to join and raise awareness for the fundraising campaign for the Malcolm X–Ella Little-Collins House sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Just learned about this museum–not a perfect fit with our site, but it made me chuckle

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This museum isn’t really about social movement activism, but it’s got the most unlikely title for a museum I have ever heard–The American Museum of Tort Law–and it definitely touches on issues of social justice through the use of the legal system. Who doesn’t want to visit a museum about tort law?! The kids will love it! 🙂

3 cheers for Kim Severson’s piece in the NY Times about touring Atlanta civil rights sites

Thanks to the May 3 piece by Kim Severson about teaching kids about civil rights history with a mostly walking tour of civil rights sites, I realized that we’re going to have to return to Atlanta to visit two museums that we missed when we started our Freedom Summer trips nearly a decade ago: The Center for Civil and Human Rights and the African-American Panoramic Experience Museum. It was great to see someone else encouraging adults to take kids on this kind of historical tourism.

Sociologist looking for elder women freedom fighters

This post comes courtesy of Dr. Johanna Foster, jfoster@monmouth.edu:

CALLING ALL ELDER WOMEN FREEDOM FIGHTERS!
I am a sociologist of gender in the Department of Political Science and Sociology, and Director of the Gender Studies Program, at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. I am currently seeking participants for a study of women in the U.S. who were participants in the historic “wave” of feminist activism in the 1960s and 1970s- activism which included political work conducted with a singular focus on sexism as well as activism with an intersectional approach that confronted the intersections of hetero/sexism, classism, racism, and imperialism Through in-depth interviews, I hope to learn how women who lived through this transformative era, and were involved as movement participants, currently make sense of the victories and setbacks in struggles for gender justice over the last 40-50 years. Committed to not repeating the mistakes of past research, I am particularly interested in learning about the experiences and perspectives of active women of color.

Here, I define “active” in a pretty broad way to include any level of collective work where women self-identified as activists in collective work for gender justice that was beyond a fleeting endeavor. For example, I would be happy to talk to women who were regular volunteers of feminist organizations (beyond mailing list memberships), or participated in direct actions, women’s initiatives, consciousness-raising groups, collectives, social justice teaching, or some kind of direct service from feminist perspectives, among other forms of political work. I am particularly interested in learning how the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality have both shaped women’s trajectories in gender politics, and also their reflections back as older women.

There is no commitment beyond the single interview, which takes about 2 hours, and I could meet folks at a time/location that is convenient for them if they are in the NJ/NY area, or over the phone if not.

If you know of any women in your personal or professional networks that might be interested in participating in this study, or if you, yourself, would like to share your reflections with me, please feel free to contact me at the email address/phone below, and/or forward this email along. I am happy to provide any additional information about the study, including Monmouth University Institutional Review Board approval documentation.

Thanks so much for your help. Please e-mail me at jfoster@monmouth.edu if you are interested in participating.