A groundbreaking book by Danielle L. McGuire. At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance – A New History of the Civil rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power. A controversial, moving, and courageous book. Narrative history at its best.
The truth of who Rosa Parks was and what really lay beneath the 1955 boycott is far different from what has been previously written.
In this groundbreaking and important book, Danielle McGuire writes about the rape in 1944 of a twenty-four-year-old mother and sharecropper, Recy Taylor, who strolled toward home after an evening of singing and praying at the Rock Hill Holiness Church in Abbeville, Alabama. The president of the local NAACP branch office sent his best investigator and organizer to Abbeville, Rosa Parks. In taking on this case, Rosa Parks launched a movement that ultimately changed the world. ISBN 9780307269065.
Danielle McGuire gives us the never-before-told history of how the civil rights movement began, and how it was in part started in protest against the ritualistic rape of black women by white men who used economic intimidation, sexual violence, and terror to derail the freedom movement. Those forces persisted unpunished throughout the Jim Crow era when white men assaulted black women to enforce rules of racial and economic hierarchy. Black women’s protests against sexual assault and interracial rape fueled civil rights campaigns throughout the South that began during World War II and continued through to the Black Power movement. The Montgomery bus boycott was the baptism, not the birth, of the civil rights struggle.
At the Dark End of the Street describes the decades of degradation black women on the Montgomery city buses endured on their way to cook and clean for white families. By 1955, Rosa Parks had become one of the most radical activists in Alabama. “There had to be a stopping place and this seemed to be the place for me to stop being pushed around.” Rosa Parks refused to move from her seat on the bus, she was arrested, and with fierce activist Jo Ann Robinson, organized a one-day bus boycott.
This one-day protest became a yearlong struggle for dignity and justice. It broke the back of the Montgomery city bus lines and bankrupted the company.
In this book, we see how and why Rosa Parks, instead of becoming a leader of the movement she helped to start, was turned into a symbol of virtuous black womanhood, sainted and celebrated for her quiet dignity, prim demeanor, and middle-class propriety. Her radicalism has been all but erased. You will learn also how thousands of black women’s courage and fortitude who helped to transform America have been reduced to the footnotes of history.
A controversial, moving, and courageous book. Narrative history at its best.
Danielle McGuire is an award-winning author and Assistant Professor in the History Department at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She is the recipient of the 2011 Frederick Jackson Turner Award.
Danielle McGuire’s dissertation on sexualized racial violence and the African American freedom struggle received the 2008 Lerner Scott Prize, and her essay, “It was Like We Were All Raped: Sexualized Violence, Community Mobilization and the African American Freedom Struggle,” published in the Journal of American History won the A. Elizabeth Taylor Prize for best essay in southern women’s history.
Danielle McGuire is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, and has appeared on national and local tv and radio stations and in newspapers throughout the United States and Canada. She lives with her husband and two children in metro Detroit.