ADDENDUM: Shouts out to waterfrommymind for pointing out the inaccuracy of the photo I posted of Rosa Parks and who I thought was her husband. Research is a big part of my life, so I’m a little embarrassed that I made this mistake. The gentleman in the photo is not her husband. In her biography, Rosa Parks: My Story, she does indeed write about her husband saying, “When he saw me, he wanted to come and call on me, but I thought he was too white…Raymond Parks was very light skinned.” (pg. 55) She also mentioned that when he called on her she also wasn’t interested because, “I’d had some unhappy romantic experiences too.” (pg. 55) It is possible that the young man in the picture I originally posted was one of those “unhappy experiences” she had described.
Also waterfrommymind points out that Mrs. Parks was far from the meek, tired seamtress that she has been portrayed to be throughout history. I definitely was not suggesting that. By saying she would be “subjected to menial jobs”, I was simply stating the facts of the era she was living in. On page 65 of her biography she states herself that obtaining her diploma, “still didn’t help me much in getting a job…I could only get jobs that didn’t need a high school diploma.” As my blog is largely dedicated to black couples, I was just in awe of Raymond’s support, because I feel that not every husband at that time would have thought as broadly as he did. However, like waterfrommymind points out, Mrs. Parks was no shrinking violet. She did go on to be a fearless crusader for women in the civil rights movement, among other things. The truth of the roles of women during the various movements (civil rights, black panther party, etc) have been shielded too long from our collective memory. I am definitely going to read Mrs. Parks’ biography in its entirety and check out At The Dark End of the Street by Danielle McGuire. Thank you waterfrommymind. Here is an online link with more detailed information about the Parks’ marriage: http://marriage.about.com/od/historical/p/rosaparks.htm
Rosa and Raymond Parks. Married 45 years. They were married in 1932, meaning Rosa was only 19 years old at that time. Raymond was a member of the NAACP, actively supporting the efforts to raise money for the Scottsboro Boys case. While Rosa took on various domestic-type jobs to support their home, Raymond still encouraged her to complete her high school studies and earn her diploma. This was no small feat, considering that only a small percentage of Blacks had actually done this—especially in the Jim Crow South. Rosa would go on to make history when she refused to move from her seat on the Cleveland Avenue Bus on December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama.
How sweet is it that Rosa’s husband encouraged her to finish high school, even though he most likely knew that she would be subjected to menial jobs throughout her life? Way to go, Raymond—that was totally awesome of you.