Rosa Parks tells her story in recently published book

October 09, 1992|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,Staff Writer

It wasn't because her feet hurt and it wasn't because she was tired.

Rosa Parks just didn't want to give up her transit bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Ala., in 1956 and, by refusing, changed America. On principle.

That is the great set-the-record-straight truth of her book "My Story," which the impromptu civil rights leader brought to Baltimore yesterday to promote and give away to close friends.

It was one she reiterated last night, while eating dinner at the Prime Rib with city contractor Victor Frenkil, state budget secretary Charles L. Benton Jr. and Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. of Johns Hopkins.

"I felt that people have written their own versions of my story and I want to set the record straight," said Mrs. Parks, 79.

History, she said, too often maintains "that my feet were hurting and I didn't know why I refused to stand up when they told me. But the real reason of my not standing up was I felt that I had a right to be treated as any other passenger. We had endured that kind of treatment for too long."

While in town, Mrs. Parks visited Dr. Watkins' father, an old friend from Alabama who is ill and being treated at Hopkins. She also underwent a physical evaluation of her own at Hopkins and Dr. Watkins, an associate dean of the School of Medicine there, said Mrs. Parks passed the exam in good health.

Dr. Watkins has been named an officer in a fledgling local chapter of the Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, headquartered in Detroit.

"We want to motivate youth between 11 and 17 to reach their highest potential," said Elaine Steele, a co-founder of the institute who also dined with Mrs. Parks last night.

On her 79th birthday in February -- the month Dial Press released "My Story" -- Mrs. Parks told an audience in San Diego:

"I am still active and working diligently in every way I know to make our lives meaningful. I'm working toward the goal of freedom we still are seeking. As long as we have bigotry and crime, we have work to do."

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