“Four decades later I am still uncomfortable with the credit given to me for starting the bus boycott. I would like [people] to know I was not the only person involved. I was just one of many who fought for freedom.” – Rosa Parks
Often referenced as “the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” it isn’t often that one considers Rosa Parks’ favorite books. Born today, February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama, Parks spent her later years in her apartment reading non-fiction books about racial equality. Parks shares, “My favorite book of the Bible is Psalms. I turn there for strength when I am bothered. The words are so poetic and full of meaning for me” (source). Aside from the Bible, Parks favorites included:
A Season for Justice by Morris Dees (w/ Steve Fiffer) – After Federal Judge Frank Johnson, noted civil rights lawyer Dees is the “second most hated man in Alabama.” As he admits in this brash and boastful autobiography, “you’ve got to be doing something good to get so many folks mad at you.” The grandson of a Klansman, he used the proceeds from the sale of a successful business to co-found the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama. Dedicated to fighting racial injustice, Dees won such notable cases as the desegregation of the Montgomery YMCA and the defense of Joan Little, a black woman accused of murdering her white jailer after he raped her. With the creation of Klanwatch in 1980, he fought the Klu Klux Klan in the courts, triumphing in the 1987 landmark civil suit that bankrupted the KKK and that gave its headquarters to the mother of a lynching victim. While Dees’s self-congratulatory tone can be off-putting, his description of his Alabama childhood and his growing realization that segregation was an evil that had to be destroyed makes this book a necessary purchase for all libraries.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is Dee Brown’s eloquent, fully documented account of the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the nineteenth century. A national bestseller in hardcover for more than a year after its initial publication, it has sold almost four million copies and has been translated into seventeen languages. For this elegant thirtieth-anniversary edition — published in both hardcover and paperback — Brown has contributed an incisive new preface. Using council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions, Brown allows the great chiefs and warriors of the Dakota, Ute, Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribes to tell us in their own words of the battles, massacres, and broken treaties that finally left them demoralized and defeated. A unique and disturbing narrative told with force and clarity, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee changed forever our vision of how the West was really won.
I wonder what titles were on her fiction favorites list because I’m certain I won’t be picking up any of these titles any time soon. Happy reading, y’all!