Weekend reading

legos

Enjoy these lego versions of the 4 women who have served on the Supreme Court.

Michael Hughes is using #wejustneedtopee to show the potential repercussions of discriminatory laws preventing transgender people from choosing which bathroom they use.

The Refuge Restrooms app helps transgender and gender non-conforming people find safe places to use the restroom.

Artist Makeda Lewis has a new afro-feminist coloring book.

Steve Buscemi is producing a documentary about Check It, the first known gay and transgender gang. The filmmakers are raising funds on Indiegogo to complete the project.

As she gets ready to leave The Daily Show, some of Samantha Bee’s best moments.

A crisis pregnancy center told a woman her IUD was her baby (disclosure: it’s part of this same project I’m involved in).

Remembering Claudette Colvin, the woman who refused to give up her seat on a bus before Rosa Parks.

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Weekend reading

Rep. John Lewis recalls the time he was arrested for using a “white” restroom.

Getting in arguments about voter fraud? Here are 7 papers, 4 government inquires, 2 news investigations, and 1 court ruling showing it’s largely a myth.

An anti-choice activist admits that harassing women outside abortion clinics doesn’t change their minds.

Oregon’s One Key Question initiative ensures that patients and doctors are talking proactively about reproductive health care needs.

There is currently no quantitative data on police-perpetrated sexual assault.

How the term “classic rapist” shows that people don’t understand rape.

Remembering Rosa Parks, anti-rape activist

Rosa Parks' mugshot, courtesy of Colorlines
Rosa Parks’ mugshot, courtesy of Colorlines

Today marks 101 years since civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks was born. By now, many people have learned to look beyond the version of Parks we learned about in elementary school–a brave but mild-mannered woman who just wouldn’t take it anymore. As organizers know, these movements don’t just spring up spontaneously but are the product of planning, strategizing and hard work.

But I imagine few people know the deeper story about Rosa Parks’ early organizing against rape and exploitation of black women, which sparks me to once again recommend Danielle McGuire’s excellent book At the Dark End of the Street:

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. Seven white men, armed with knives and shotguns, ordered the young woman into their green Chevrolet, raped her, and left her for dead. The president of the local NAACP branch office sent his best investigator and organizer to Abbeville. Her name was Rosa Parks. In taking on this case, Parks launched a movement that ultimately changed the world.

The author gives us the never-before-told history of how the civil rights movement began; 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; and how 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 went through to the Black Power movement. The Montgomery bus boycott was the baptism, not the birth, of that struggle.

Organizing against sexual assault can be harrowing in our current times when rape culture is still dominant, so it’s mind-boggling to think of the obstacles Parks and her fellow organizers faced seeking justice for black women in the South in the 1940s. That organizing was critical in feeding into the larger civil rights movement, and one more reason to honor Rosa Parks as a badass, inspiring organizer.