Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Called the "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement", Rosa Parks passed away yesterday in Detroit at the age of 92. As the New York Daily News put it on their front page - which was dedicated totally to her today, a singular honor - she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man and by doing so, she changed America.

Her role in the civil rights movement during the 1950s (The seminal event will be marking its 50th anniversary in less than two months.) has been depicted several times and from different angles in Toobworld:

Jonelle Allen (Rosa Parks)
. . . American Woman: Portraits of Courage, The (1976) (TV)
Angela Bassett (Rosa McCauley Parks)
. . . Rosa Parks Story, The (2002) (TV)
Yolanda King (Rosa Parks)
. . . "King" (1978) (mini) TV Series
Iris Little Thomas (Rosa Parks)
. . . Boycott (2001) (TV)

As expected, Rosa Parks appeared as herself in many documentaries and TV specials centered on the cause:

Intimate Portrait: Rosa Parks (2001) (TV) .... Herself
Of Civil Wrongs & Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story (2000) .... Herself
21st NAACP Image Awards (1989) (TV) .... Herself
19th Annual NAACP Image Awards (1987) (TV) .... Herself - Presenter

Many of those documentaries used archival footage from those turbulent times:

Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks (2002) .... Herself
The Rosa Parks Story (2002) (TV) (uncredited) .... Herself
The Speeches of Malcolm X (1997) (V) .... Herself (leads march into Montgomery beside Abernathy)
"Eyes on the Prize" (1987) (mini) .... Herself
In Remembrance of Martin (1986) (uncredited) .... Herself (rides bus)

But surprisingly, she also joined the League of Themselves by portraying herself in episodic TV. Not so surprisingly, it was a dramatic series with an overabundance of heart and meaning:

"Touched by an Angel" playing "Herself" in episode: "Black Like Monica" (episode # 5.23) 2 May 1999

Actually, I'm kind of surprised certain shows didn't find a way to have this defiant legend appear in one of their episodes as herself, or have her history depicted within the framework of their show - 'The Cosby Show', 'I'll Fly Away', and especially 'Any Day Now' which took place in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1990s with flashbacks back to the early 1960s. (And now having typed that, I better check their episode guides to be sure....)

Addendum: If Ms. Parks was mentioned in any particular episode of 'Any Day Now', it would have been in this one, I'm guessing...

Episode #35 - "Say Something"
First aired: 12/5/1999
In the flashback, Rene learns the power of words when she encourages an elderly black man to sit in the front of a public bus. When the man is severely beaten by two white boys, Rene feels guilty about her words and vows never to speak again.
[Thanks to TV.com]

With her passing, and thus with a renewed attention to the life she lived, we may see Rosa Parks depicted yet again in the TV Universe. Not that it's any high honor or anything, but she's already secured herself a place in the TV Crossover Hall of Fame, thanks to those actresses who have represented her in Toobworld.

May she rest in peace.


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