Sometimes a book comes along which totally blows me away… and Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World is just such a book! Kate Pankhurst, descendent of Emmeline Pankhurst, has created this wonderful and very readable picture book about women who really changed the world.

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World
 

Bursting full of beautiful illustrations and astounding facts, Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is the perfect introduction to just a few of the most incredible women who helped shaped the world we live in.

List of women featured: Jane Austen, Gertrude Ederle, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawa, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks and Anne Frank.

Today I’m thrilled that Kate Pankhurst has written for Muff and Teacake about Rosa Parks, over to Kate for a fantastically fascinating story…

Rosa Parks, the Ordinary, Extraordinary Lady on the Bus

My research into the great women involved going Pinterest crazy gathering references to inform the design of each starring woman’s double page spread. I wanted every detail in their clothing, pose and setting to give readers an insight into that particular great woman’s life.

Something that struck me looking at the iconic police mugshot of Rosa Parks that was taken in 1955 after her arrest for refusing to move out of her bus seat to make way for a white passenger, was that with a small pale flower tucked in her pinned up hair and smart buttoned up coat, Rosa really didn’t look like the sort of person to get herself into trouble with the police. The point, and the remarkable thing about Rosa, is that she really wasn’t.

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks mugshot (C)1955 Universal History Archive—UIG via Getty Images

 

Before working on Fantastically Great Women I didn’t know the whole story about what happened on that Montgomery Bus in 1955. I found out that Rosa was an everyday women travelling home from work until, in the split second after being told to give up her seat for a white passenger, she decided enough was enough.

What I love most about Rosa is that she didn’t shout or scream or use any sort of violence in her legendary protest. She simply refused to move, because why should she? As Rosa sat waiting for the authorities to arrive, with the eyes of the whole bus on her she could have quite easily relented. By making such a stand she wasn’t just breaking the law, she was putting herself in danger.

rosa-on-the-bus-c-kate-pankhurst
 

Making that decision in the moment made me think about the fact Rosa had no clue about how her actions would change the world or about how she would rouse thousands of other black people to boycott the buses in Montgomery. She had no idea that her actions would be a massive step towards a fairer more equal society.

More than sixty years later there’s, sadly, still a long way to go, but without ordinary people like Rosa taking that first terrifying step things can’t change for the better. It makes you think – the next person to start a change could be an ordinary person sat next to you on the bus. Or you.

Now that I look at that photo of Rosa after her arrest I can see past the sweet looking lady with a hat and glasses. There’s a definite determination in her eyes, a glimmer that she wasn’t going to take anymore nonsense from anyone, I hope my illustrative version of Rosa captures that.

(Although, had I been in her shoes on that day I’m not sure I would have been able to resist using that neat little handbag I’ve drawn her holding to take a swing at that guy who told her to move. But of course, calm protest will always achieve far more.)

Kate

Wow Kate, such a great testament to the power of peaceful protest! Thank you!

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