Rosa Parks' Stamp on American History

As we honor the centennial of her birth, let's understand the full measure of her legacy.

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Honoring her legacy means summoning similar audacity. It requires acknowledging that America is not a postracial society and that the blight of racial and social injustice is deep and manifest. It entails a profound recommitment to the goals for which she spent a lifetime fighting -- a criminal justice system fair and just to people of color, unfettered voting rights, educational access and equity, real assistance to the poor, an end to U.S. wars of occupation and black history in all parts of school curricula. Finally, it means heeding her words to Spelman College students: "Don't give up, and don't say the movement is dead."

Jeanne Theoharis is professor of political science at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and the author of a new biography, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks.

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