#1: Unknown photographer, AP Photo, Dec. 21, 1956, Rosa Parks riding on the Montgomery Area Transit System (staged photo)

Image description / Photo #1:
This picture was set up to commemorate the anniversary of Rosa Parks’ first arrest in Dec. 1955. It shows her seated in a bus that is empty except for a lone white passenger, who was UPI reporter Nicholas C. Chriss, based in Atlanta, Georgia. (+, +, +, +)

#2: probably by Gene HerrickBettman/CORBIS, Feb. 22, 1956, Second arrest, Montgomery

Image description / Photo #2:
Rosa Parks being fingerprinted after being arrested for the second time. This photo was not staged; photographers were alerted beforehand. (+)


Here is Barack Obama’s statement on the 55th anniversary of Montgomery Bus Boycott (Dec. 2010):

“Fifty-five years ago, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus – an act that challenged the moral conscience of an entire nation. The Montgomery Bus Boycott marked a turning point in American history – the moment where we began the march toward the Civil Rights Movement and the eventual outlawing of racial segregation and discrimination.

Rosa Parks and the many other leaders and foot soldiers in that struggle for justice championed our founding principles of freedom and equality for all, and today, as we commemorate the anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, I encourage all Americans to honor their legacy – the legacy of Americans who marched bravely, worked tirelessly, and devoted their lives to the never-ending task of making our country a more perfect union.” (+)

This post
tells a whole different story about Rosa Parks - here’s a small excerpt:

“All the jabber about a humble seamstress is just an exercise in political cosmetology. Imbuing Rosa Parks with an aura of sainthood served the NAACP’s political ends perfectly; they tailored her story to suggest that the Montgomery bus boycott was a spontaneous expression of the Negro spirit. Rosa Parks played along. This is how Rosa Parks allowed herself to become immortalized and imprisoned by The Myth of Rosa Parks.” (Thomas Clough, “Weird Republic”, Dec. 11, 2005; read the whole post)

Ok, I’ve read posts of similar “quality” by Holocaust deniers misquoting sources to support their own questionable theories.

All I want to say is: No matter if above photo is staged or not, or what the whole back story is - if people like Mr. Clough would use their time & energy to learn about history in the United States of America or elsewhere (from reliable sources) they would stop denigrating people who have been treated like animals for decades and decades and start respecting all people, regardless of their ethnicity or skin color.

In German we have a word for such people: “Ewiggestrige”.

Many thanks to Adrienne and Caille for helping me with this post! Please check out their wonderful blogs!

Here’s a part of the message Adrienna (aka auntada) sent me:

“…understanding the backstory is critical to gaining a true insight into how sophisticated and intricately planned the civil rights movement was, in general. Strategic planning was absolutely essential in dismantling the South’s institutionalized systems of segregation and oppression.”

Let me end this post with an excerpt of the NYT article that Thomas Clough also has quoted - a part that didn’t really support “his side of the story” I guess”:

“…rather than a simple seamstress who dared to ‘think different,’ Mrs. Parks was a longtime N.A.A.C.P. activist who went to the famous Highlander Folk School to learn about social change and lunched regularly with Mr. Gray, the civil rights lawyer.

None of that diminishes the achievement or her life, just as, perhaps, the true story of the picture need not detract from its power. It’s just a reminder that history is almost always more complicated and surprising than the images that most effectively tell its story.” (Peter Applebome, New York Times, Dec. 7, 2005)

May your soul rest in peace Ms. Parks.

» find more photos of Rosa Parks here «