Jeanne Theoharis established herself as the writer of the long civil rights ear (extending our view of this historical forces and outcomes of the civil rights movement beyond the small window of the 1960s) with her book The Rebellious Life of Ms. Rosa Parks. In this book she explores how the legacy of the civil rights movement has been reshaped, used, and invoked. Read for a fuller picture of who we are as a nation and where the struggle for equality is going.
The civil rights movement has become national legend, lauded by presidents from Reagan to Obama to Trump, as proof of the power of American democracy. This fable, featuring dreamy heroes and accidental heroines, has shuttered the movement firmly in the past, whitewashed the forces that stood in its way, and diminished its scope. And it is used perniciously in our own times to chastise present-day movements and obscure contemporary injustice.