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Scholar on Rosa Parks to Speak April 2

Scholar on Rosa Parks to Speak April 2


The historical African American rebel Rosa Parks was much more than a “tired seamstress” on that famous bus ride, according to Jeanne Theoharis, a political science professor at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.

Theoharis will speak and discuss her research Tuesday, April 2, at SUNY Cortland, in a talk titled, “The Rebellious Life of Activist Rosa Parks: Remembering Her 100th Birthday.”

The presentation takes place from 2:50 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2, in the Corey Union Exhibition Lounge. A book signing of her 2013 work, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, will follow.

Her lecture continues the College’s celebration of Women’s History Month at SUNY Cortland, which runs through April 3 with a series of speakers, workshops and art exhibitions.

Presented by the College’s Women’s Studies Committee, the events are free and open to the public.

Jeanne Theoharis
Professor Jeanne Theoharis is shown in this 2012 image by John Ricasoli.

Theoharis’ definitive political biography of Rosa Parks examines six decades of activism, challenging perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement. The talk will correct the popular notion of Rosa Parks as the quiet seamstress who, with a single act, birthed the modern civil rights movement, Theoharis said.

She will provide a revealing window into Parks’ politics and years of activism and will explain how this civil rights movement radical sought — for more than a half a century — to expose and eradicate the American racial-caste system in jobs, schools, public services and criminal justice.

Theoharis received an A.B. in Afro-American studies from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in American culture from the University of Michigan. She is the author or coauthor of four books and articles on the black freedom struggle and the contemporary politics of race in the United States.

“The only thing she was tired of was racism and injustice,” dispelling the myth of the “tired seamstress” on the bus, wrote John Marciano, a SUNY Cortland professor emeritus of education, upon reading Theoharis’ book. “Whatever we thought we knew about Rosa Parks, there is far more we do not know and will learn from this work.”

Both Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had developed radical anti-war and anti-capitalist views that few know about, according to Marciano. He describes the work as an “outstanding work” and a “must” for teachers to share with their students and for parents and grandparents to share with their children.

Women’s History Month events are sponsored by the Art and Art History Department, Dowd Gallery, Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies, Campus Artist and Lecture Series, Health Department, President’s Office, Women’s Initiative Committee, Women of Color, Women’s Studies, Gas Drilling Awareness for Cortland County and NeoVox.

For more information, contact Caroline Kaltefleiter, professor of communication studies and chair of the Women’s Studies Committee, at 607-753-4203.