YA & Up
Civil Rights Movement
Modern Black Freedom Struggle
Jeanne Theoharis & Brandy Colbert
I love Rosa Parks. So much. I’m that insufferable person that will talk about how simplified her narrative has become when referring to the Modern Black Freedom Struggle/Civil Rights Movement of the 30’s-60’s whenever her name is mentioned. File this information away for the next time you think about inviting me to your party. For #SweetsAndSocialJustice this week, I’ve done my best to try a new recipe for an old household staple: coffee cake. This coffee cake has tons of cinnamon sugar and chocolate, so how could I resist?
The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks is the result of years of research, and the Young Readers Edition was adapted with the help of renowned author Brandy Colbert. Rosa didn’t just decide not to move on the bus one day, she was deeply entrenched in activism and working for the Black community for decades before and after that fateful day on the bus. I really appreciate how the book details the personal complications (many of which were financial) of her protest, and also the opportunities it gave Rosa.
This book also reinforces again and again to the reader just how much widespread community organizing went on for years all over the country for legislation to be passed and white racist beliefs begin to shift slightly. I learned so much about the 40+ years that Rosa lived in Detroit, and her activism there, and I enjoyed the photos of Rosa’s letters that have survived. Rosa believed in youth organizing and traveled almost constantly, making speeches and assisting with fundraising (she never took any payment for this) when she felt she could contribute. She was truly a brilliant light, and so much more than that single act that on a city bus.
This book was kindly sent by Beacon Press, but all opinions and decision to review are my own. The recipe I tried this week is from Smitten Kitchen, but I made it gluten free. I also used brown sugar, because I was out of granulated, chopped dark chocolate, and topped it with flaky sea salt. It was super delicious, and I recommend warming it up in the microwave for 15-30 seconds to make the chocolate a little melty.
Jeanne Theoharis is the author or co-author of eleven books and numerous articles on the civil rights and Black Power movements, the politics of race and education, social welfare and civil rights in post-9/11 America. Her biography The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks won a 2014 NAACP Image Award, the Letitia Woods Brown Award from the Association of Black Women Historians, and was named one of the 25 Best Academic Titles of 2013 by Choice. Her book A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History won the 2018 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize for Nonfiction. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, The Nation, The Atlantic, Slate, Salon, the Intercept, the Boston Review, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Brandy Colbert is the award-winning author of several books for children and teens, including The Voting Booth, The Only Black Girls in Town, The Revolution of Birdie Randolph, and Stonewall Book Award winner Little & Lion. She is co-writer of Misty Copeland’s Life in Motion young readers edition, and her short fiction and essays have been published in a variety of critically acclaimed anthologies for young people. Her books have been chosen as Junior Library Guild selections, and have appeared on many best of lists, including the American Library Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults and Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. She is on faculty at Hamline University’s MFA program in writing for children, and lives in Los Angeles.