Rosa Parks: Interpretation 2

Taylor Branch

Parting the Waters

"People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true," Parks later explained. "I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. . . . No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in." (Rosa Parks)

Taylor Branch provides a sophisticated look at Rosa Parks. Although she is sometimes portrayed as a passive, meek woman who spontaneously reacted under the indignity of Montgomery’s segregated bus system, Branch shows a Parks who was already a rather seasoned activist by 1955. Parks characterized herself as having a life history of rebelliousness toward racial injustice, and she had been involved in a number of civil rights issues prior to her arrest.

She and her husband had raised money for the Scottsboro Boys’ legal defense fund, and parks had joined the NAACP in 1943, some 12 years before the Montgomery arrest.

Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989).