Digital Histories and Social Justice, Sept 14

Photo of Rosa Parks holding a poster of Malcolm X. Courtesy of LeRoy Henderson
Photo of Rosa Parks holding a poster of Malcolm X. Courtesy of LeRoy Henderson

Many people are familiar with the story of Rosa Parks, the civil rights icon who refused to move to the back of an Alabama bus during the days of segregation in the South. What many people don’t know is that she was not the first to take a bold stand against injustice, nor was it a spontaneous action that day in Montgomery. Rosa Parks was a lifelong activist, and had been organizing long before her historic protest. But a Google search for Rosa Parks returns results that perpetuate the reductive narrative that we are all familiar with.

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis provides a more complete history of Parks’ life, and is the basis for a new online resource for teaching about Rosa Parks, The website is a collaboration between Professor Theoharis, her colleague Say Burgin, and I, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Seminar on Public Engatement and Collaborative Research and the Center for Humanities. It is the second version of the website, and now includes an interactive timeline and teaching guides for college and high school students. The three of us will be part of a panel on September 14th, cosponsored by the Futures Initiative, to discuss the importance of creating usable digital histories to challenge dominant narratives that often distort true history. We’ll also discuss issues and concerns that are important to consider when creating digital resources. We hope you will join us for what we hope will be an informative discussion.


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309