Rosa Parks’s Written Account of Attempted Rape: Fact Or Fiction?
Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks‘ legacy, although highly revered, has also been greatly diminished by many who attempt to honor her life. This was a woman who truly dedicated her entire life to the civil rights struggle, from the Scottsboro boys in the 1930s to the Black Power Movement of the 1970s. Still, most of us act as if her single act of courage and historical significance, despite all of her other work, was sitting down on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama several decades ago.
However, a newly publicized writing of hers may show the complexity and depth of the legendary woman. In a collection of other writings and artifacts soon to be auctioned off, there is a six-page handwritten account of an attempted rape of a young black woman by a white man. The age of the narrator is about the same age Parks would have been at the time, and she works for a white couple in their home, also consistent with the writer’s actual life. It seems there are three possibilities as far as the writing goes. Either it actually happened exactly the way she wrote it, she embellished it for dramatic effect, or she compiled her knowledge of many varied experiences (either hers or others) into one story.
Either way, the tale certainly gets one’s attention.
In the essay, the Parks character is approached by a white neighbor, whom she calls “Mr. Charlie” (lending itself to the fact this may be an embellishment, or at least the names have been changed). The neighbor is actually able to get into the home of the couple she is working for because a black employee named “Sam” set her up by coming into the house and falsely saying he had lost his coat, a ploy to allow Mr. Charlie a way in.
“He offered me a drink of whiskey, which I promptly and vehemently refused…He moved nearer to me and put his hand on my waist. I was very frightened by now. He liked me…he didn’t want me to be lonely and would I be sweet to him. He had money to give me for accepting his attentions. I was ready to die but give my consent never. Never, never.”
Later, she began to taunt her would-be attacker.
“I asked him if the white woman were not good enough for him, and it was too bad if something was wrong with them. I taunted him about the supposed white supremacy: the white man’s law drawing the color line of segregation. I would stay within the law—on my side of the line.”
The story ends after she completely ignores and defies Mr. Charlie. “I said he couldn’t pay me or fool me, or frighten me. At long last Mr. Charlie got the idea that I meant no, very definitely no.”
Makes you want to know more about the person behind the legend, doesn’t it?
Source: The Root