Rosa Parks – Civil Rights Activist


You know her as the brave woman who changed the course of a nation by refusing to give up her seat. However, this is not the whole truth. In this essay, an analysis of the strengths and an evaluation of each of the two arguments that claim Rosa Parks had a lifelong commitment to the fight for human rights will be presented. These sources include, “Rosa Parks Was My Aunt. Here’s What You Don’t Know About Her” by Urana McCauley and, “Rosa Parks – Civil Rights Activist | Mini Bio | BIO” by Biography. In each source, rhetorical appeals were used to strengthen the argument that Rosa Parks had a lifelong commitment to human rights.

The first source, “Rosa Parks – Civil Rights Activist | Mini Bio | BIO” by Biography, talks about the civil rights activist Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated Montgomery, Alabama bus. This encouraged the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott that helped launch nationwide efforts to end segregation of public facilities. The city of Montgomery had no choice but to lift the law requiring segregation on public buses. Rosa Parks received many accolades during her lifetime, including the NAACP’s highest award. In “Rosa Parks – Civil Rights Activist | Mini Bio | BIO” by Biography, the filmmaker uses a logical appeal to strengthen the argument that Rosa Parks had a lifelong commitment to the fight for human rights. Throughout the video, logical and reliable evidence like “Rosa joined Raymond in the NAACP serving as the chapters secretary and youth leader” supports the main claim (Biography, 2010, 0:49-0:52).

For a little background, the NAACP stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and their goal is to achieve the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights to end race-based discrimination. As a result of the filmmaker bringing up this fact in the video, the evidence supports the argument that Rosa Parks had a lifelong commitment to human rights. The filmmaker also presents Parks’ commitment to the fight for human rights by using an emotional appeal. In the video, the narrator talks about how Rosa Parks changed the course of a country by refusing to get up. “She was a role model. Her courage in the face of racial injustice. Rosa Parks through her quiet eloquence, through her commitment both to her faith and to the cause of civil rights and racial equality, was prepared to sacrifice everything her security, even her life to fight for what was right, at least her perception of what was justice” (Biography, 2010, 1:38-2:05). This quote connects with the audience because it shows them that if Rosa Parks had not done what she did, the United States as we know it would not exist. Because of this, the viewers will see her as a hero, who spent her whole life fighting for human rights. To conclude, the filmmakers’ argument is effective because of the proper use of pathos and logos in the video supported the main claim and made the viewers agree with the filmmaker.

The second source “Rosa Parks Was My Aunt. Here’s What You Don’t Know About Her” by Urana McCauley is about how people don't understand that Parks was an activist her whole life, and she started questioning things at a young age. The article also talks about how Parks refusing to give up her seat was not planned or staged for the media.

Parks just felt passionate about civil rights. In “Rosa Parks Was My Aunt. Here’s What You Don’t Know About Her” by Urana McCauley, the author presents Parks’ commitment to the fight for human rights by telling an anecdote which appeals to the readers’ emotions. “After that NAACP event, that’s when I started asking her questions about what she witnessed, what she endured, and what life was like for black people back then. That led to her telling me many stories. She’d tell me what her life was like when she was a little girl growing up in Alabama. One of the things that people do not understand about my aunt is that she was an activist her whole life, and she started questioning things at a young age. I think part of it was her upbringing with her grandfather, Sylvester Edwards. He would sit up at night with a shotgun — in case the KKK might come by and try to kill them — and talk to her about black resistance and the key figures in it: Crispus Attucks, Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey. That laid the foundation for my aunt to feel like, “This isn’t right. I should be doing something and becoming an activist.” Her whole life became dedicated to change”(1). This quote demonstrates the emotional connection the narrator made with the readers because it proves that Parks refusing to give up her seat was not planned or staged for the media but, Parks just felt passionate about civil rights. With that being established, the readers will feel what Rosa Parks did was a true act of courage and Parks really did have a lifelong commitment to human rights. The author also presents Parks’ commitment to the fight for human rights by constantly portraying the narrator as Rosa Parks’ niece so the readers to see the narrator as credible. “I regularly give presentations to organizations and schools about how tirelessly my aunt worked for justice and how she’d been heavily involved in civil rights work long before she refused to give up that seat”(1). This quote shows the narrator knew this information about Parks because of her personal encounters with Rosa Parks (because Parks is her aunt), thus making her reliable. The quote also emphasizes that Parks had a lifelong commitment to human rights.

To determine which source had more the strengths and was more effective, a deeper look will be taken into which source clearly states its position on the controversial issue, which more effectively attempts to build common ground with its readers, which has stronger, more persuasive evidence and clear explanations (logos), which has stronger, more effective emotional appeals (pathos), and which has stronger, more effective ethical appeals (ethos). To answer the first question, a closer look into the source that really made the readers/viewers think about Rosa Parks will be the source that clearly states its position on the controversial issue which is “Rosa Parks Was My Aunt. Here’s What You Don’t Know About Her” by Urana McCauley. For the second question, the source that had more effective rhetorical appeals and was more conversational would be the source that effectively attempts to build common ground with its readers. This source is “Rosa Parks Was My Aunt. Here’s What You Don’t Know About Her” by Urana McCauley. The source that uses more facts and evidence is the source that has stronger, more persuasive evidence and clear explanations (logos). This source is “Rosa Parks – Civil Rights Activist | Mini Bio | BIO” by Biography. The source that had more of an emotional appeal to readers/viewers is “Rosa Parks Was My Aunt. Here’s What You Don’t Know About Her” by Urana McCauley. Finally, the source that had stronger, more effective ethical appeals (ethos) is “Rosa Parks Was My Aunt. Here’s What You Don’t Know About Her” by Urana McCauley.

In conclusion, the source that was more effective in proving that Rosa Parks had a lifelong commitment to civil rights was, “Rosa Parks Was My Aunt. Here’s What You Don’t Know About Her" by Urana McCauley. This is because it made the readers think more about Rosa Parks' life and it had more effective use of rhetorical appeals and was more conversational. Throughout the article, the narrator uses her connection with Rosa Parks as a source of credibility. She also tells personal stories to connect to readers emotionally. And even though she doesn't use a lot of the logic with regards to numbers but said she uses reasoning which counts of her logos. In the end, "Rosa Parks Was My Aunt. Here's what you don't know about her" by Urana McCauley, effectively connect to readers, is more persuasive and accurately shows that Rosa Parks had a lifelong commitment to human rights.

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