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October 19, 2004

The Exploitation of Rosa Parks

In case you missed it, the Times has the ugly backstory of the Rosa Park's lawsuit against Outkast, which it turns out was probably not her idea at all, but carried out by her caretakers who are viewed by many as exploiting Rosa's name (and ill health).

This has apparently been an issue for quite some time, check out this excerpt from a 2001 Parks bio:

Fellow civil rights leaders, friends, and family of Parks, expressed concern about her demanding schedule and finances in September 1997. They were unable to get answers from Parks' attorney, Gregory Reed, and personal assistant, Elaine Steele, who together had formed The Parks Legacy, a corporation that controlled the public property rights to Parks' image. According to court records, the "selling" of Parks included fees for autographs and pictures of the civil rights legend, her appearance in a rock video, and her image on a phone-calling card. An article in the Detroit News noted, "Civil rights leaders and marketing experts fear the products cheapen Parks' image and legacy as the mother of the civil rights movement."

This makes me wonder about other things, like when Rosa Parks supposedly boycotted the NAACP awards to protest the jokes about her in "Barbershop" ..a move that was explained only by a statement from Elaine Steele.

It also, unfortunately, reminds me of our run-ins here on this site with the clumsily dishonest wife of Richard Pryor, about whom I have similar concerns.

Posted by jsmooth995 at October 19, 2004 3:45 PM

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