2017 may well become known as the year of #MeToo. But the women standing up today are in fact part of a long history of activists fighting sexual harassment. And one of the activists more commonly associated with another movement was a key figure in early attempts to rectify sexual injustice: Rosa Parks.
Revered as a civil rights icon, Rosa Parks is best known for sparking the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, but her activism in the black community predates that day. She joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1943, 12 years before that fateful commute. In her first years in the organization, she worked specifically on criminal justice and its application in Alabama communities.
One part of this was protecting black men from false accusations and lynchings; the other was ensuring that black people who had been sexually assaulted by white people could get their day in court. This particular issue was close to Parks’ heart as in 1931 a white male neighbor had attempted to assault her.