Media Silence Perpetuates Rosa Parks Myth

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Yesterday, Pres. Bush signed legislation authorizing a Rosa Parks statue for the National Statuary Hall in the Capitol. We sent the following press release to DC-area media, hoping for a chance to object to this unearned honor. We have received no takers. Like the newspaper editor in John Ford’s Western classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, when it comes to the so-called civil rights movement, the media apparently believes that “when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

Parks Statue a ‘Disproportionate Honor’

On Thursday, Dec. 1, President Bush authorized erection of a statue of Rosa Parks in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. In his remarks, the President lauded Parks’s courage, and credited her with launching the civil rights movement.

“This is a vastly disproportionate honor for a woman whose sole claim to fame is to have refused to give up her bus seat,” said Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance magazine and author Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America.

According to the myth, Rosa Parks was just too tired to give up her seat and move to the colored section. Her spontaneous act is said to have sparked the Montgomery bus boycott and launched the civil rights movement.

In fact, Parks’s act was planned by the NAACP, for which she had worked for 10 years. Her arrest did start the bus boycott, but she played no role in organizing it. Nor did the strike succeed; it was a court order that integrated Birmingham’s buses.

“It is impossible, even by the most sympathetic reading, to see Rosa Parks as anything but an minor figure in the Civil Rights drama,” said Taylor. “Nor did she do anything of significance during the intervening 50 years. Rosa Parks has become a hero of American history on the basis of a single half hour of immobility. Surely, no other American has won such praise for having done so little.”

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