"I was ready to die but give my consent never. Never, never."—Rosa Parks, from an essay about "nearly being raped by a white neighbor who employed her as a housekeeper in 1931." The six-page handwritten document was found among her papers "currently residing in the Manhattan warehouse and cramped offices of Guernsey's Auctioneers, which has been selected by a Michigan court to find an institution to buy and preserve the complete archive."
Civil rights historian Danielle McGuire said she had never before heard of the attempted rape of Parks and called the find among Parks' papers astounding.That was a woman with a teaspoon the size of Texas.
It helps explain what triggered Parks' lifelong campaign against the ritualistic rape of black women by white men, said McGuire, whose recent book "At the Dark End of the Street" examines how economic intimidation and sexual violence were used to derail the freedom movement and how it went unpunished during the Jim Crow era.
"I thought it was because of the stories that she had heard. But this gives a much more personal context to that," said McGuire, an assistant professor of history at Wayne State University in Detroit.
...McGuire wondered why Parks omitted the attempted rape incident from her memoirs but included the story about the little boy who threatened her.
"It shows some kind of conscious effort in shaping her own legacy but also, I think, speaks to the issue of respectability. She doesn't necessarily feel comfortable telling the world about what happened," she said. "But she's contemplating telling people about it because she's written it down."