Is the Rosa Parks Story True? – Blog

Ronald Smallwood
Thanks for setting the story straight. As a retired history instructor, I remember the difficulty of telling the broad story and taking the time to get to the details. To get around this, I would require “What did the instructor skip over?” and “What did the instructor get wrong?” papers. I wanted my students to challenge what they heard & read, to know that there is always more to know and that no matter how honest the witness, they may not know the whole story.
Charlie Shaley
Thank you so much for the video! It’s really disheartening to have grown up with incorrect or oversimplified stories about something so important in this country’s history. I’d really like to see the wealth of information and research in videos like this taught in schools
The myth is about denying the independent agency of black women. According to some narratives Rosa has to be a poor, helpless victim who one day, out of the blue, decides that she’s had enough and, as if by magic, a movement is born. That’s what I was taught at school and what is still taught in British schools. The very idea that she was a determined, experienced campaigner with a history of civil rights activism is never touched upon.
Cristofer Wolz-Romberger
I think that a significant part of Parks’ success as a figurehead was her appeal to moderate whites. Parks was a light-skinned, middle-class, well-educated (for the time), married woman (without kids); and as such was nonthreatening and tugged the heartstrings of working-class whites who couldn’t help but sympathize with the “tired woman just wants to sit down” story. This provided a lot of support to the Boycott: Parks made it difficult to be passively racist: you were either actively against her; or you supported her story, and by extension, desegregation. I think a lot of modern protest movements could learn a lot from the NAACP’s use of Parks as a figurehead; as well as Parks’ skill at stepping into that role so effectively.
tora tora
I learned about Claudette Colvin from Drunk History. Not from all my years of school and college, from Drunk History.
Please cover Harriet Tubman & Sojourner Truth! I have a GREAT need to hear their real stories!
Tiara O'No
I would love to see a video on George Washington Carver. While he is one of my favorite scientists, and invented tons of useful and amazing things… he is only known popularly for bringing us peanut butter. He deserves more recognition for the fantastic work he did!
K Webster
I did a report on Harriet Tubman when I was very young. I remember the Underground Railroad and her tireless trips. Drunk history covered an entirely different portion of her biography I didn’t know. I would love to hear the entire story of her assistance to the northern troops . Was that true?
Lauren Lemon
Pauli Murray is another activist that refused to give up a bus seat all the way back in 1940! She was an incredibly interesting person that really should have more attention shined on her.
it makes sense in context
This channel is one of my favorites on Youtube, well researched, and well presented. I’d say the reason Rosa Parks’ story is oversimplified is because in schools, history is oversimplified and watered down for kids to understand and process. Kids learn history in school and unless they decide to undertake further study, either by themselves or at a university or college, what they learned in school becomes ‘historical fact’ to them, regardless of how factual it actually is. Another reason is where people choose to start the story when they tell it, which is a problem with microhistory (a study of a small set of events over a short period of time without much of the larger context). The story for Rosa Parks and the bus boycott starts at her not standing on the bus, not with her other activism, or with other women who refused to stand. This creates the effect that everything in that story starts on that one bus ride, and while for narrative purposes it’s great! It reates this neat litte snippet of istory that can be fed to people easily. It’s not great for historiographical reasons because it ignores a lot of the wider context these events happened in, creating a narrative deviod of much of the impact of the actual events.
I’m truly loving this show! I admit that I was uncomfortable to where the preference for Mrs. Parks over Mrs. Colvin by the NAACP was going but then it all made sense.
Abraham El-Gothamy
I loved how passionate she was in this video! It was both inspiring and insightful
I really liked Colvin’s telling of her story! Historical heroes inspiring a 15 year old to stand her ground is very awesome and brave to me!
Great video. I learnt a lot. If it’d been a black man refusing to give up his seat for a white rather than a black woman, maybe he wouldn’t have been seen as a tired old man? I don’t recall anyone referring to Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Robert Wedderburn or Olaudah Equiano as tired old men. Just a thought.
Bryan Kelly
Rosa Parks was a boss , the fact we’re having this discussion is amazing .. I never knew about the little girl that did the same thing though .. Props to that lady too ..!
Katrina Eames
This was great – I’m definitely going to be sharing this around because I don’t like how Rosa Parks has been neutralized in our cultural imagination
Masutā MJ
The thought of being only one generation removed from the Civil Rights era puts into perspective that this really wasn’t that long ago
mister manners
I was just talking about how I grew up believing this, and that I didn’t learn the truth until well into my adulthood. And that believing the wrong narrative really screwed up or limited my sense and understanding of the world.
I would love to see Viola Desmond’s story told in one of your videos. You’re stuff is amazing! Thank you for working so hard to put these videos together!
Kevin Jones
Thanks for telling us the true story of Rosa Parks. Something I have never heard before.
Hiden Biden
This doesn’t take anything away from Rosa but the complete truth is refreshing and I like seeing the younger woman get credit
Justikki Smith
My 3rd grader just read about Rosa Parks and I’m glad to say that the public school curriculum did a good job highlighting her previous activism and painting her as a strong woman who knew what she was doing. Nowhere was “tired” or “elderly” a part of the conversation. And her story was placed in the larger context of the Civil Rights movement (meaning her stand wasn’t out the blue), and talked about her activism later in life as well. I felt some hope that my son and his classmates won’t have to one day unlearn what I had to unlearn about this amazing woman.
Bryan Kelly
Could you do The Orgin of Names In Phrases ..? For example – Tom foolery Just Joshing you Great Scott Smart Alec Debby downer Bob’s your uncle Peeping Tom You don’t know Jack No way, Jose The real McCoy There are tons and some are obvious , like ones that rhyme and quotes from any type of media .. I’d like to know about the not so obvious ones , such as “Tom foolery” , “You don’t know jack” , “Peeping Tom” , “Just joshing you” etc .. Thanks , appreciate yah ..!
Hope Weiss
On one hand I love that the leaders were trying to protect a 15yo girl from the whole country watching her but at the same time I know exactly what it feels like to be told that my opinions and actions don’t matter because I’m only a child and don’t know anything this was years ago and I still sometimes feel like that and she is here remembering that decades later tbh I’m shocked she hasn’t made more of a demand to be recognized I sure as hell would have
Jennifer M. Giroux
I never knew about Colvin! Thank you for this highlight! 😀👍🇺🇸 A mural of Sojourner Truth was just put up in downtown Akron’s Lock 3 next to LeBron James mural…I love it! It’s a wonderful reminder of her “Ain’t I a woman” speech given in Akron, Ohio in 1851…☺
Lucía R. Pérez
Excellent video!! I became a fan of this channel. Warm regards from Montevideo, Uruguay. I love these efforts to portray people from History as accurate as possible.
Kathryne Hiersche
Thanks for creating such great videos! We really appreciate it
my opinions are facts
I remember looking up Rosa parks after we covered her in school and then gaining a whole lot more respect for her
J Scott Upton
Today I also learned that she was followed onto the bus by the media. History certainly is NOT the simple stories we learned as children.
Benjamin Brewer
I believe she was 42 at the time. Is this correct? From her interviews it sounds like it wasn’t premeditated but at the same time her whole life prepared her for the moment. She wasn’t making plans with the NAACP and their lawyers but they were waiting for someone like her. It probably wasn’t part of her plan but she probably new they would have her back.
Leavon Fletcher
Thank you VERY much for bringing out the story of Claudette Colvin. I will read up on her and remember her name.
Right when you said I’m not crying you’re crying I literally had tears in my eyes
Thank you for educating people about this.
Shay B
There seemed to be a culture of dystopia about image and reputation in the past. The narrative of Mrs. Parks and so many others stories (public and private) are manipulated to not cast a negative view of the person. Just like how we celebrated Columbus for centuries.
Anya Thurmes
That Claudette Colvin quote at the end gave me goosebumps.
Andre P
This is true excellence! Great job!
She was on my list of people I wanted to meet until she passed. Now she is a viable answer to “If you could eat dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?”
Dennis Dawson
Her life after the bus boycott is missing from my history. I my school it seemed to end there. I am glad to hear it really didn’t and pissed that I was denied he’d story.
Solomon Mars
I just watched the latest episode of Doctor Who, which involved Rosa Parks and I honestly wish they had, had you on the set as an consultant.
She can be a civil rights activist AND a tired lady on a bus. Leaving out her activist past doesn’t make what we know of her story “a myth”. I was not taught that Parks’ action was spontaneous or passive or unintentional. Is that what they teach white kids? All their history has been whitewáshed and there is no mystery as to why!
Mark Shoffner
Wow! I’m 55 years old and have never heard that story. Thank you!
Thank you for this, I had no idea about most of what you went into on this video
Do MLK Jr and how he was anti capitalism and how he was picked to represent the Civil Rights movement instead of Malcolm X
I always lover her outfits. They always have something going on with them
Lauty Bend
lol, I was actually crying when she said “I’m not crying, you’re crying”. That was creepy
Great video!! And so glad I found this channel.
Kalisha Spikes
I went to a school named after her, I’m so proud
Anne Gray
In the 1890s there were also two black women who successfully sued the railroads for forcing them to move into segregated train cars. One was Ida B. Wells.
Other historic figures I want covered? All the ones I never heard about. … I should probably narrow down that list.
Twiggy le Roux
Could you do a video on Bass Reeves, the greatest lawman of the old west?
Hoop Jeanne
I just found this is channel. I love this host, and I love PBS Digital Studios!!
Darth Pro
please cover jacque fresco! he’s the most interesting historical figure i know
David Top
I world like to know more about those Women from New England who started that school. They sound as boss as Rosa Parks!
Omar Toren
It’s the same with Helen Keller. From radical, communist, feminist (gasp!) who fought for women’s equality and the labor movement to blind/deaf/mute who inspired us to… (?). King and Parks were far more radical than history books lead us to belive. But history heroes are made to appeal to all and those narratives don’t appeal to all.
Ian Dunn
They may have put her in a more synthetic position by saying she was simply tired. It’s something anyone who’s done a long days work can relate to. By that it may of also painting her in a better light and once again more sympathetic light in places where racial tolerance still wasn’t as common. To be fair tho I never heard of her painted in the image of being older always like her mid 20s or something.
Wow Great lesson. Thank you for the info.
Dawud Yelton
very informative, thank you…
Respect…. Well done…
Angie Penrose
I suspect one of the reasons Ms. Parks’s story was stripped of activism is the same reason she was chosen as the test case in the first place — perception and image. Just as a sedate looking older married lady was considered better optics than a teenager who later got pregnant out of wedlock, an ordinary working woman who didn’t get up because she was tired would’ve been thought to appeal more to the mainstream white people who needed to be convinced about civil rights than would a radical activist who’d always fought for equal rights and who refused to get up as a deliberate strategic move to force a response that would trigger a backlash from the black community and their allies. Just as activist Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t terribly popular at the time, neither would have been life-long, calculating activist Rosa Parks. The tired old woman was (and probably still is) a much more acceptable hero character to a lot of white people.
You should do a video on the biased portrayal we have against Muslims in the west against their actual beliefs and customs.
Andrew Nunn
I love your videos!!
661 Choppin
They tried to make her seem like just another person!!
I just learned about Colvin today, but Rosa Parks is a G
Graham Turner
For those who haven’t seen it, watch the Doctor Who episode “Rosa”.
Leavon Fletcher
That isn’t taught because you would also have to teach that she was a socialist, and we cannot have that. Dr. King DEFINITELY is much more radical than is regularly taught.
Tricia C
Very interesting. Your sweater at the end looks great on you!
Rebecca Washburn
Dr Who did a episode about Rosa and it was amazing
Obviously it wouldn’t have helped the case if they told everyone that their plaintiff got arrested on purpose lol.
Christopher Lagos
the question is: ‘IS THE STORY TRUE?’… the answer : mostly false. It is said that the scene was planned ahead of time. speak on that please!🙂
lesbian chihuahua
You look so good! I love that outfit! I love how you paired the dress with the shirt!
Boy R va
You’re not crying!! I’m crying
Wolf Hybrid Dog Trainer
She was the secretary of the chapter of the NAACP & had pre-planned this action & went on the bus planning to do this in advance… learn the truth…
James Harvey
She wasn’t even an old lady; she was only 42 years old at the time. But judged by the standards of the day she would been considered “old”. Today 42 is considered “young”.
mali carter
It would be nice to hear about hazel Scott.
Fullmetal 1890P
I think that by not associating Rosa Parks with the civil rights movement as someone who was previously involved in it before this big event was simply to give her more unbiased credibility. If we knew that she was involved in the movement prior to this event, it would seem more like this was her plan all along, as opposed to a sudden occurrence of injustice that could happen to anybody. It’s the very reason why people are discrediting kneeling protesters at football games, because they can directly see their bias. The fact that we weren’t told of Rosa Parks’ bias before this incident makes her story universally relatable and that makes everybody rally behind her, not just the people who agreed with her politically. It was probably a smart move because if everybody had known she was really doing this intentionally, they probably wouldn’t have rallied behind her and would have just labeled her another “troublemaker.” The fact that she seemed innocent made her sympathetic, as opposed to the instigator.
Scott Samuels
This was really good. What about Rosa Parks being a communist? Any truth to those stories? Thanks.
Crabbin Moose
Claudette herself lied in the 2009 interview, saying that she was influenced to action because of the hero’s she’d learned about during “black history month”….. There was no such thing as black history month in 1955-6 ! ! Previous to 1976 there was only black history week! It wasn’t until 1976 when President Gerald Ford made “Black History Month” official to American schools by recognizing the whole month of February as such when he urged everyone to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Guess this clip is another Fake News job by PBS brought to you by the baby killing NAACP! They’re still covering for the fact that Mrs Colvin was a precursor to the welfare act as she was an unmarried, teen mother-to-be in 1956 after the original act went down….not the optics they wanted.
James Sum
Someone needs to tell her that “V.” Stands for “versus”
Fonzi Mendoza
I want to see a Civil Right movie about the founders of this school. I understand the horrible things that black people have gone through, but you can’t talk about Civil rights without acknowledging those non-blacks who saw the inequality and did something about it.
i think is because of two main reasons: #1 marketing : The story of a single incident on a bus with an “accidental hero ” woman its more hollywoodesque, sales better, than a 20 year activist career finally having the virality she was looking for.. these simplifications happen around the world.. its very common that “hero stories” are both simplified and exhagerated , they sell better that way #2 feminism: the black community leaders couldnt let this become a Feminist subject.. they were fighting a race struggle not a gender one.. so in that sense her “leadership” role wasnt as desireable as her “victim” role.. This actually makes sense for practical reasons.. they couldnt wage all wars at the same time.. but in 2018 there is no reason for keeping it this way.. and actually Rosa Parks actions can be re-analyzed and revisited froma modern Gender angle.. im actually surprised SJW and the left havent done this already..
Milwaukee Mike
parks was noticed more than previous ladies because she was fair skinned and mixed
Constantin Valdor
They teach the tired old lady in uk 🇬🇧 schools.
Not Gay Bear
Oh so it was staged just like everything today
This happen in Canada in a theatre.
Can you do a segment about Claudette Colvin
Dang school didn’t teach me this. I came from a black empowerment YouTuber..🤷🏾‍♂
All my HS history teachers were white men. 🤔
The Intellectual Spectator
Not why we only hear about a portion of Park’s story.. Why do we only get told the false one? Where is Claudettes stamp, statue, and national recognition?
Marcus Vachon
That little quip about “I’m not crying, you’re crying!” was completely unnecessary. Just tell Rosa Parks’ story. There is no need for jokes.
Jay Davis
You left out the fact that Rosa Parks husband was white.
Rande Thorman
How about an episode on Madam C. J. Walker?
tired? never heard of that side of the story, good thing.
Sarah Louis Keys is my cousin and was the woman who inspired Rosa Parks
Dheyaa Almohammed
I learn little more about Rosa Parks
anyone else watching this video after watching the doctor who episode of rosa parks.
Steven Palmer
Was she an Eastern Star?
Gonzalez Sabrina
I thought y’all said mixed is mixed and mixed is not black but yet claim Rosa parks is black when she is biracial and saying Obama is the first black president when he is also mixed ???
but are we going to talk about Bayard Rustin tho?
Beaux Bromwell
Something about you reminds me of ZOOM ❣️ nostalgia ❤
vo id
We see you, Claudette!
Was using defiance really the answer to her argument? It was breaking the law.
Clayer Kwiltee
This Hattie McDaniels lookalike presents as delusional and in denial. Rosa Parks biggest asset was that she was light skinned and European looking . That’s it. What’s the point of lying to yourself(selves)?
Chance the dog
Drunk history did it first…
Dont subscribe to me
ppl give Rosa Parks all the glory and not to Robert ”Mr. Bitches” Freeman
Christian Banks
Who took the pics of the famous picture of her on the bus with the white man? Was it plotted? Someone please tell me.
Do the origins of Dee’s
Wish you’ll come back
The whole thing was set up. A publicity stunt of sorts. The original woman who was meant to be on the bus got pregnant out of wedlock so Rosa larks was the “backup”. Look it up.
Kwame Blade
Mrs. Parks looks white. Ms. Colvin has Black African features. It was good marketing strategy to go with Mrs. Parks to change the thinking of upper class whites in powerful positions. They can see themselves in Mrs. Parks.
So were Rosa’s actions planned and staged?
Kevin Ostrowski
My great grandfather was part of the movement. He was the guy that said. HEY! BACK OF THE BUS!
You’re wearing blue again!
Joseph Jorgensen
So what your saying is the naacp skewed history wow sounds like a shady group who doesn’t really look out for the best of the mass but looks out for the best for them
Christian -
a bit long and you talk fast !!!!! ;))
Darrell Damon
Why are you crying 😢?
Ashleigh Smith
They don’t make women like this no more.
Julian Alves
They just happened to have a camera crew on the bus?
Shannon dobbs
She was LIGHT SKIN that’s why!
Lain Iwakura
She was also a CIA asset, and this entire scenario was contrived
Clayer Kwiltee
Rosa Parks doesn’t even look like the same race as this Hattie McDaniels/Star Jones,/Leslie Jones/ Gabi Sidibe look alike. And yet…as if…
Jerry Tiong
can do on something more general that can relate to everyone on earth, this video is meaningless to not american.