The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks

Film. Directed by Johanna Hamilton and Yoruba Richen. Produced by Soledad O’Brien. 2022. 101 minutes.
This documentary sheds light on Rosa Parks’ extensive organizing, radical politics, and lifelong dedication to justice.

Time Periods: 20th Century, 1945, 1961, 1975
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Women's History

Based on the bestselling biography by Jeanne Theoharis and executive produced by award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien, this 2022 Peabody Award winning documentary depicts Rosa Parks’ life-long dedication to justice. The film chronicles her childhood, her activism before and during the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott, her work for Congressman John Conyers in Detroit, and her involvement in causes such as voting rights, anti-apartheid, reparations, fair housing, women’s rights, and the fight against police violence.

Directors Yoruba Richen and Johanna Hamilton expertly weave together interviews from many great academics and activists . . . along with personal stories from her family, and remarkable footage of Mrs. Parks herself, to dispel myths and to illuminate her decades-worth of extensive organizing, strategizing, and activism in the pursuit of Black liberation.

Fiercely dedicated to correcting the frequent minimizing of her accomplishments and the erasure of her radical politics, this powerful documentary recognizes that Black women’s work in the Civil Rights movement is often overlooked, and celebrates one of America’s greatest heroes to ensure that her legacy lives on. — Celeste Wong

The documentary includes interviews with Jeanne Theoharis, Barbara Smith, Robin D. G. Kelley, Francis Gourrier, Keisha N. Blain, Mary Frances Berry, Ericka Huggins, Bryan Stevenson, Patrice Cullors, Rev. JoAnn Watson, Dan Aldridge, Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Frank Joyce, and more. Also included are recorded interviews from Eyes on the Prize with Jo Ann Robinson.

In the Classroom

The documentary and the young readers’ edition of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks have been shared in classrooms across the country.

Teaching Guide

Check out the teaching guide for The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks book and film.

More on the Documentary

Learn about the film and see clips in this Democracy Now! program with Jeanne Theoharis and Yoruba Richen.

The film is streaming on Peacock. Here is the trailer.

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