The Beauty Myth

The Beauty Myth

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The Beauty Myth


Rosa MacCauley began her phenomenal life on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her mother was a schoolteacher and taught Rosa at home until age 11. Her father, who was a carpenter and a builder, left the family because he wanted to travel, but his wife wanted a permanent home. (Guest History Month 1) As a little girl, Rosa McCauley was afraid to go to sleep at night. She has several memories of white people who rode horses burning crosses and scaring black people. These people that Rosa described in her memories were members of the group known as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). (Parks 30)
Education for blacks was not easy to come by at this time. Schools were segregated when Rosa was a little girl, but Rosa's mother wanted her to be "special." She saved money for years for Rosa's schooling. When Rosa was nineteen years old, she fell in love with a man by the name of Raymond Parks. They were married and Rosa's name, Rosa McCauley, changed to Rosa Parks. Three years after her and Raymond were married Rosa finished high school. After accomplishing this she felt special, just as her mother had wanted. (Women's History Encyclopedia 1)
Rosa then went on to Shaw College where she earned an honorary degree. She worked as a seamstress and a housekeeper, and was active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Montgomery Voters League. The Voters League was a group that helped black citizens pass many tests which would enable them to register as voters. In 1943 Rosa was elected the position of Secretary of the NAACP Montgomery Chapter. (Bennett 609)
During the next twelve years Rosa began gaining great respect in the black community. She continued to be actively involved in the NAACP and continued as a seamstress. The segregation laws during this time were just about "driving Rosa crazy." (Parks 35) Although there were many laws separating blacks and whites, Rosa stood up for what she believed in. She walked up the stairs of a building rather than riding in an elevator marked "blacks only." She would go home thirsty instead of drinking from the "colored only" water fountain. (Guest Rosa Parks 2)

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The most historical, significant action by Rosa Parks occurred on Thursday, December 1, 1955. She got on a bus to go home after a long day of work. Happy that there was actually a seat open, Rosa sat down and relaxed in a row where other blacks were seated. A few stops later, a white man came onto the bus. The bus was full so the driver, James Blake, ordered the black people in Rosa's row to move so the white man would have a seat. No one in the row stood up so once again the bus driver ordered them to move. After the second order everyone in Rosa's row got up to move except for Rosa. She was sick and tired of the discrimination against blacks, and she figured that if she paid the exact same fare as the white man, then she had as much right as him to sit there. Blake began to shout at Rosa and when she continued her refusal to move he went and got two policemen who came onto the bus and arrested her. (Women's History Encyclopedia 2) When Rosa arrived at the police station she called her mother who then called the NAACP. Rosa was released from jail and with the help of the NAACP, she decided to fight the fine. With that the NAACP started a boycott against the buses. (Bennett 378)
The Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was headed by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., began on December 5, 1955 and lasted for thirteen months. This seriously hurt the bus business, and after the three hundred and eighty two days that the boycott lasted, the Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery's segregation laws were unconstitutional. They also ruled that it was illegal to treat people differently because of the color of their skin. The action by Rosa Parks on the bus led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which eventually led to the Civil Acts Right of 1964. During the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Rosa and her family received many threats and were constantly harassed, and she was also fired from her job as a seamstress. (Women's History Encyclopedia 1)
In 1957 Rosa and her husband moved to Detroit, Michigan where she began sewing again and also worked as a fundraiser for the NAACP. In the year 1965, Congressman John Conyers, Jr., also a civil rights leader, hired Rosa to manage his Detroit office. Both Rosa and her husband remained active in the NAACP and also the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In 1980, at the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Rosa was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize. (Women's History Encyclopedia 2) This gave her a great feeling and it made her realize once again how much influence she had by her actions in 1955. (Parks 39)
After the death of her husband in 1987, Rosa founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development. This organization offers guidance to young blacks and sponsors an annual summer program, Pathways to Freedom. (Guest History Month 2)
Rosa McCauley Parks devoted her life to the aid of other people. She made a very large impact on history with her actions on the bus, which eventually helped blacks throughout the entire United States. Some of the awards not mentioned that Rosa achieved were the NAACP's Spingarn Medal (1970), the Martin Luther King Jr. Award (1980), the Lifetime Achievement Award (1997), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Annual Rosa Parks Freedom Award. (Guest History Month 2) Rosa Parks celebrated her eighty-seventh birthday February 4, 2000. Her courage, determination and her will to never give up in her efforts to make Americans aware of the history of the civil rights struggle, gave this country a little bit of a push to make life for everyone equal. I believe that one day, every American citizen will look at everyone equal without looking at the color of their skin. Maybe someday in the future another person, such as Rosa Parks, will come into the world and make it a better place.




Bibliography:

Bennett, Lerone, Jr. Before the Mayflower. Johnson Publishing Company. New York.
1961. pp 378 + 609

Guest History Month. 1998. http://www.health .org/gpower/girlarea/gpguest/
Rosa Parks.htm

Parks, Rosa. Rosa Parks, My Story/with James Haskins. Dial Books. New York. 1992.
Pp27-49.

Women's History Encyclopedia. 1999. http://www.teleport.com/~megaines/parks.htm

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