Rosa Parks, “mother of the civil rights movement,” was discovered recently to have written a first-person account of a young black housekeeper being sexually accosted by a white man, but whether she was describing something that happened to her or was writing a work of fiction is uncertain. (An earlier version of this Truthdig item was based on an AP report that changed afterward when new information surfaced.)
The handwritten, six-page document was one of thousands of Parks’ belongings being sifted through and organized for auction. Parks’ memoirs never mentioned the incident detailed in the recently found work.
A civil rights historian, Danielle McGuire, described the essay as an astounding discovery and said the encounter it spoke of helped explain Parks’ longtime effort against the ritualistic rape of black women by whites. However, an institute created by Parks reacted to the news by saying that although the account was written by Parks, “we believe [it] is a work of fiction.”
From The Associated Press:
... The six-page document is among thousands of the civil rights activists’ personal items currently residing in the Manhattan warehouse and cramped offices of Guernsey’s Auctioneers, which has been selected by a Michigan court to find an institution to buy and preserve the complete archive.
... Archivists who reviewed the documents for Guernsey’s provided descriptions of their contents and characterized the encounter as a “near-rape.”
Steven G. Cohen, a lawyer for the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development in Detroit, said people who knew Parks well were aware that she liked to write fictional essays for herself. ...
“This six-page essay we believe is a work of fiction,” said Cohen. ...
Civil rights historian Danielle McGuire, however, called the essay an astounding find. “Rosa Parks was very likely to have encountered this kind of proposition,” she said.
It helps explain what triggered Parks’ lifelong campaign against the ritualistic rape of black women by white men, said McGuire. ...
Parks writes in the essay: “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,” she wrote.
“I was ready to die but give my consent never. Never, never.” ...
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