I Am Rosa Parks, by Brad Beltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
Like many people of my generation, I first learned about Rosa Parks thanks to the rap group Outkast. And while some people were offended by the reference made in that song, it squared with my own experience riding the bus in high school in one of Tampa’s more ethnically diverse neighborhoods where almost all of my neighbors were black. (Note: I am not.) Rosa Parks is considered a hero essentially for one act, and that is refusing to get up from her seat in the bus. During the time, blacks were forced to sit in the back of the bus while whites got to sit in the front of the bus. During my time in high school, many of my black high school neighbors wanted to sit in the back of the bus, something which is perfectly fine. To do by choice what one had to do by law or rule is not a problem. It is the act of having chosen that place that makes it okay. This is a rare sort of heroism that the author discusses that can be copied nowadays, and the author makes sure to reference buses in Alabama now to contrast the present situation from the past.
Although this book has a very narrow point of heroism that it focuses on, the book is as long as other books in the series, which means one gets a lot more filler than is the case for others whose moment of glory was longer or whose deeds were more varied. The author spends a lot of time, as is his fashion, talking about the inequality of education under separate but equal and even alluding to or inventing a story about children throwing their trash (including books, which are generally not trash, except when they are written by Progressives or other people who suborn the truth to their wicked ideologies). The author manages to subtly influence the reader to counteract the natural bias to consider less school a good thing, given the author’s evident bias towards public schooling. There is at least one aspect of the freedom to sit anywhere one chooses, though, that the author appears not to grasp. The right to go where one wants to go and sit on whatever spot one chooses to sit also infers an equal right to be able to go where one wants to avoid being around others. The freedom that integrated schools and public transportation in the cities of the United States made both those schools and public transportation and cities less popular to whites who were needed to make that infrastructure work. When people want to be separate, it is hard to force them to be equal.