Monday, January 17, 2011

The Real Rosa Parks, A Radical Activist and Top NAACP Investigator.

1964-Black children integrate pool of
Monson Motel. To force them out, owner
pours acid into the water.
It's hard to imagine that the true story behind the American Civil Rights Movement could possibly be any darker and more sinister than what we've been told, but it is. It's hard to imagine that the bus boycott was anything more than the right to choose where to sit on a bus, but it is. It's hard to imagine that Rosa Parks was anyone other than the tired, dignified seamstress who “refused to give up her seat” on a Montgomery bus, whose random act served to help launch the Civil Rights Movement, but she is.

So, why don't we know this?  Could it be, the powers that be want us to believe the only way change occurs is through magical random acts of courage?  Not through non-violent mass organizing and the the hard work of regular individuals coming together to build the infrastructure necessary for an effective movement?

Well, thank goodness for people like Danielle L. McGuire, author of At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power, who, after researching the Recy Taylor case, discovered documentation that proved Rosa Parks was a top investigator into the routine and ritual rape of black women by white men in the mid-1940s. She worked on behalf of brutalized black women, helping to catalyze one of the more important, but wholly overlooked, building blocks for the American Civil Rights movement, for well over ten years before she “refused to give up her seat” on that  Montgomery bus on December 1,1955.

Integrating St. Augustine's "white only" beaches.
The bus boycott was so much more than what we've been led to believe. It was actually a well-thought out, well planned "woman's movement for dignity, respect and bodily integrity".  Prior to the bus boycott, there were more than a decade of cases shedding light on how black women were humiliated, assaulted, harassed and mistreated on the buses, as well as in the community at large.  As Ms. McGuire pointed out, it would take more than choice of seat to make so many walk to and from work, church, school, the store, etc., in all types of weather for 381 days .

The brutal sexual violence of black women by white men, occurring at the same time that black men risked lynching, if they even glanced at a white woman, demonstrates the role that weaponized sexuality played in maintaining white supremacy. This, of course, dates back to the end of the Civil War, where interlocking race and sex was used in an effort to undermine the postwar politics of non-racial citizenship.

It's no wonder we're so thoroughly conditioned to fear sexuality. What good is a weapon if it doesn't make the people tremble in fear?

Martin Luther King's Last Testimony
"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

— The final words from Martin Luther King's last speech, given in Memphis Tennessee the night before he was assasinated on April 4, 1968

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